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EU Officials Launch Investigation into TikTok Over Potential DSA Violations

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EU officials are wasting no time enacting their new powers under the Digital Services Act (DSA), with the European Commission announcing a new investigation into whether TikTok is currently in violation of DSA rules in relation to the protection of minors in the app.

Concerns have actually been raised around TikTok’s compliance on several fronts, including systemic risks related to app addiction, its age verification processes, its security measures for minors, data transparency, and more.

As per the European Commission:

On the basis of the preliminary investigation conducted so far, including on the basis of an analysis of the risk assessment report sent by TikTok in September 2023, as well as TikTok’s replies to the Commission’s formal Requests for Information (on illegal contentprotection of minors, and data access), the Commission has decided to open formal proceedings against TikTok under the Digital Services Act.

It’s the second major probe under the new DSA laws, with X also currently under EU investigation over its efforts in restricting illegal content, and stopping the spread of misinformation in the app.

TikTok will now need to provide further information to EU investigators to assess its efforts, with a maximum penalty of up to 6% of its global earnings on the cards if it is found to be in violation.

Though that’s probably unlikely, given that the DSA also includes clauses that enable investigators to “accept any commitment made by TikTok to remedy on the matters subject to the proceeding”.

Given that the DSA has only recently been initiated, this will probably be the outcome of these early investigations, though EU officials may also want to send a strong message early, in order to underline the seriousness of the new rules.

Though there’s also this:

The duration of an in-depth investigation depends on several factors, including the complexity of the case, the extent to which the company concerned cooperates with the Commission and the exercise of the rights of defence.

So any investigation could carry on for some time, meaning we won’t know the outcome for a while yet. But again, potentially, TikTok could face big fines if it is found to be in breach, and it fails to take action to address any highlighted concerns.

It’ll be interesting to see how EU officials look to enact the regulations, and keep each platform in line with these more restrictive processes. That could get especially complex with the DSA, given the variable interpretations around what constitutes adequate action on certain fronts.

As such, these early cases could play a key role in establishing precedent, which could indeed see big fines coming, and could even force apps to reassess their operations in the region as a result.  

I mean, Meta has threatened that before, and depending on how EU officials approach these new laws, there could be further concerns on this front.

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