Social Media

Italy Tells TikTok to Block Users Whose Ages Can’t be Verified

The data privacy watchdog of Italy has ordered the video-sharing app TikTok to briefly block the accounts of the users whose ages cannot be confirmed.

The order came in just after the death of a 10-year-old girl in Palermo, whose parents informed authorities their daughter was taking part in a blackout problem she noticed on the app. The child had died of asphyxiation, and the authorities are investigating if anyone had invited her to try the challenge.

The Italian Data Protection Authority has ordered TikTok to block unverified customers in Italy until at least February 15th. The corporate said that it had not discovered content material on its platform which might have encouraged the child to participate in the challenge, and also mentioned it was cooperating with the investigation.

A TikTok spokesperson informed, “Privacy and safety are top priorities of the platform and we are regularly trying to strengthen our policies, applied sciences, and technologies to protect all the users and even our younger users in particular.”

Under the TikTok policy, users should be at least 13 years old to sign up for an account on the platform, but Italian authorities said that it was very easy to break this rule. TikTok already has an app in the US for children under 13 called TikTok for Younger Users and helps to restrict the content material available to those users.

TikTok spent most of the past year adding more privacy controls for younger users’ accounts. It has introduced remote parental controls and is even allowing the parents to change privacy settings on the app for their children. At the beginning of this month, TikTok even updated the default privacy settings for users between the age of 13 to 15, by introducing limits on who can see and comment on their videos.

However, children’s privacy advocates have argued that TikTok does not do enough to protect children on its platform. The Beijing-based TikTok parent company ByteDance paid a USD 5.7 million fine to the US Federal Trade Commission in 2019 for an earlier version of TikTok called Musical.ly, over allegations it violated the Children’s Online Privacy Act (COPPA) in permitting users under 13 to sign up for the app without their parents’ consent.

The temporary suspension of unverified accounts in Italy bans TikTok from further processing user data for which there is no certainty of age.

The non-permanent suspension of unverified accounts in Italy bans TikTok from further processing user data for which there is no certainty of age.

 

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