Chinese Video App TikTok To Be Probed By EU Over Data Processing And Privacy Issues

After it came under the scanner of the authorities in the United States over security concerns, Chinese-owned short video app TikTok now is set to be face regulatory scrutiny in Europe.

The data processing activities and privacy practices across the European Union of the ByteDance-owned app will now be investigated by the e European Data Protection Board (EDPB) which has set up a task force for this purpose.

European Parliament Member Moritz Korner had raised concerns over TikTok’s security and privacy risks and the move is a reaction to those concerns, the EDPB said.

A fine in te US of $5.7 million imposed in 2019 against TikTok for illegal collection of personal information from children was cited in a letter submitted in November to the European Parliament by Korner. In the letter he asked the Parliament whether the EDPB had been contacted by the European Commission about the potential security risks posed by TikTok after the authorities in the US decided to initiate a probe in the acquisition of US social media app Musical.ly by ByteDance in 2017.

The EDPB already issued guidelines for all companies subject to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the EDPB said in a statement in response to Korner’s letter. The importance of the guidelines was underscored by the privacy watchdog, particularly in the area of transfer of personal data from the EU to countries outside of the bloc as wlel as I the manner in which data of minors is processed.

The top focus of the company is protect its users’ privacy and security, TikTok said. “We are happy to work with the EDPB and support their work,” the company told Caixin.

The GDPR was implemented in May 2018 with the aim of harmonization of data protection throughout European Union. The one of the strictest privacy regulations in the world, the GDPR has forced many businesses to change the manner in which they collected and used personal information of people of the EU. The European privacy watchdog has imposed more than 1,300 fines for breach of the GDPR since it was implemented more than two years ago and the total worth of the fines was at 450 million euros ($509 million). The highest penalty for data privacy breach in Europe was imposed on Google in January 2019, worth 50 million euros, over charges that the company had not properly disclosed to its users the manner in which the company gathered their personal data across its host of online services.

The GDPR sets a maximum fine for violations of 20 million euros or 4% of annual global turnover — whichever is greater.

TikTok allows its users to create short videos, some with special effects, and it mostly contain clips from pop songs. The app has become wildly popular among teenagers. According to estimates of Sensor Tower, globally the app has been downloaded more than 2 billion times which has made it the most downloaded non-game app. Data also shows that $11 million on the app was spent by European users in 2019.

(Adapted from Asia.Nikkei.com)

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