Following a complaint that it had been sent to it in May against the Chinese owned short video sharing app TikTok, the data privacy watchdog of France, CNIL said on Tuesday that it was initiating a preliminary investigations into the app and its activities and business practices.
Data regulators in the United States, the European Union and Denmark are already conducting investigations against the app over concerns of privacy of data of its users. TikTok is owned by China’s ByteDance and there are concerns in many countries that the personal data of its millions of users could be handed over by the company to Chinese authorities if demanded.
India has already banned the app in June this year along with a host of other Chinese apps over concerns of security of data of its Indian users as well as for national security security reasons amidst a standoff with China in its Himalayan borders.
“The CNIL began investigations into the tiktok.com website and the TikTok application in May 2020. The CNIL had indeed received a complaint at that date,” a spokesman for the authority said in written comments sent to the media on the case.
“To date, the CNIL continues its investigations and participates in ongoing European work,” the spokesman said.
“Protecting TikTok users’ privacy and safety is our top priority. We are aware of the investigation by the CNIL and are fully cooperating with them,” TikTok told the media when asked about the CNIL probe.
There are a number of issues that the investigation by the French authority will cover, the probe will include ascertaining the level of information that the users of TikTok provide to the company and the flow of data going out of the European Union. The regulator will also look into the measures taken by the company to protect minors, said the spokesman for CNIL.
The spokesman said that the initial; complaint filed with the CNIL in May was closed because the complainant was seeking to remove a video from the app, and according to EU law, the complainant had to first ask the app to do so which had not been done. Therefore the complaint was closed and no action was taken.
The CNIL is part of a recently established EU task-force on TikTok. The CNIL spokesman said that the task force fort TikTok is reviewing a number of issues of the app including its arrival in the region and the wish of the company to have Data Protection Commission (DPC) of Ireland as its chief oversight national regulator.
The composition of the task-force hasn’t been made public.
TikTok poses a national security risk because of the personal data it handles, officials in the United States have said. US President Donald Trump has already issued an order to ban TikTok after 45 days unless there was deal to sell it to an American company, which in this case is Microsoft which has expressed interest to purchase the operations of the app in the US and Canada and elsewhere.
(Adapted from Reuters.com)