TikTok Under EU Scrutiny: Navigating Compliance with New Digital Regulations

TikTok

TikTok, the widely popular social media platform owned by Chinese company ByteDance, is currently under significant scrutiny by the European Union for possible breaches of the newly implemented Digital Services Act (DSA) and Digital Markets Act (DMA). The DSA and DMA are part of the EU’s efforts to regulate large online platforms, ensuring they adhere to strict content moderation, data protection, and digital market competition standards.

Key Highlights

  • Digital Services Act Compliance: TikTok has announced new measures aimed at aligning with the DSA’s requirements, including making it easier for European users to report illegal content, enabling users to opt-out of personalized recommendations, and restricting targeted advertising for users aged 13-17. These steps come as the EU’s industry chief Thierry Breton indicated that more work was needed for TikTok to be fully compliant with the DSA​​.
  • Data Safety and Localization Efforts: Amid concerns over data security and privacy, TikTok is undertaking a data localization project, which includes storing EU users’ data in a Dublin-based data center. However, challenges persist, including delays in the project and the revelation that some non-EU-based staff can access EU user data​​.
  • Scrutiny Over Content and Data Practices: European officials have raised various concerns with TikTok’s CEO, including child safety, the spread of disinformation, and the transparency of political content. There are also ongoing investigations by EU data protection watchdogs into TikTok’s data transfer practices to China​​.
  • Investigations into Content Moderation: The European Commission has formally requested information from TikTok (and Meta) regarding their efforts to curb the spread of illegal content and disinformation, particularly in relation to the Israel-Hamas conflict. This step could lead to formal investigations and potential fines for non-compliance with the DSA​​.
  • EU’s Firm Stance on Compliance: Thierry Breton, the EU’s commissioner for digital policy, has warned TikTok that it must intensify its efforts to comply with EU regulations, emphasizing the importance of user safety and data protection. Breton has made it clear that the EU is prepared to use the full scope of sanctions to protect its citizens, underscoring the serious implications of non-compliance​​.

TikTok

The ongoing scrutiny of TikTok by the European Union underscores a broader effort to regulate large tech companies more stringently, ensuring they operate transparently and responsibly within the bloc. The DSA and DMA represent a significant shift towards proactive regulation of digital platforms, with the potential for substantial impacts on how these companies operate in Europe. As TikTok navigates these regulatory challenges, the outcomes of these discussions and investigations will likely set important precedents for digital platform governance in the EU and beyond.

The intensifying scrutiny of TikTok by the European Union signifies a critical juncture for the social media giant as it navigates the complex landscape of digital regulation. The EU’s rigorous approach, embodied in the Digital Services Act (DSA) and Digital Markets Act (DMA), aims to ensure that large online platforms operate within a framework that safeguards user data, promotes transparency, and fosters a competitive digital market. TikTok’s efforts to comply with these regulations, through measures such as enhancing user reporting mechanisms, modifying advertising practices, and undertaking data localization projects, illustrate the significant challenges and adjustments tech companies must make in response to evolving regulatory environments.

However, the EU’s ongoing concerns—ranging from data privacy and child safety to content moderation and the spread of disinformation—highlight the broader implications of such scrutiny. It is not just about regulatory compliance; it is also about the trust of millions of European users and the broader societal impact of digital platforms. The potential for heavy fines and stringent sanctions underscores the seriousness with which the EU views these obligations, serving as a stark reminder of the high stakes involved.

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About the author

Jamie

Jamie Davidson

Jamie Davidson is the Marketing Communications Manager for Vast Conference, a meeting solution providing HD-audio, video conferencing with screen sharing, and a mobile app to easily and reliably get work done."