The president of the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, has confirmed that there are several ongoing investigations into TikTok. The inspections concern the transfer of EU citizens’ data to China and targeted advertising aimed at minors. Investigators are trying to make sure TikTok complies with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
“The data practices of TikTok, including with respect to international data transfers, are the object of several ongoing proceedings,” wrote Ursula von der Leyden in a letter shared by Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr. “This includes an investigation by the Irish [Data Protection Commission] about TikTok’s compliance with several GDPR requirements, including as regards data transfers to China and the processing of data of minors, and litigation before the Dutch courts (in particular concerning targeted advertising regarding minors and data transfers to China).”
Von der Leyden responded to concerns expressed by members of the European Parliament about the possible access of EU citizens’ data on TikTok by Chinese state authorities, after a message of BuzzFeed News. The data usage practices of this application have been in the EU’s spotlight for a long time. Earlier this year, TikTok agreed to implement certain policies regarding ads and branded content following a complaint that accused the app of breaching EU consumer protection rules.
Of course, TikTokikTok has been in hot water on the other side of the Atlantic over its privacy and security practices. Last month, TikTok denied reports that Chinese workers of its parent company ByteDance planned to track the whereabouts of some US citizens through the app.
TikTok is transferring data about American users to Oracle data centers in the country in an effort to appease officials who were concerned that China could use the app against American citizens. In August, it was revealed that Oracle was reviewing TikTok’s content moderation systems and algorithms to ensure they were not vulnerable to Chinese interference.
Carr, a senior Republican FCC commissioner, said this month that TikTok should be banned in the US. He previously called on Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores.