Italy cracks down on TikTok following tragic death

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Italian regulators turned their eyes toward TikTok this week following the tragic death of a 10-year-old girl.

On Thursday, the Italian Data Protection Authority (GPDP) ordered makers of the popular social media app to stop processing the data of any user within the country “whose age could not be established with full certainty.” This move essentially places an immediate hold on all but age-verified accounts. 

The temporary measure is set to run through Feb. 15, at which time the GPDP will announce how it intends to move forward in the long term. According to TikTok’s European privacy policy, “TikTok is not directed at children under the age of 13.”

Licia Ronzulli, the president of Italy’s commission for childhood and adolescence, championed the move by the GPDP. 

“The safety of minors must be protected at all costs and cannot, as happened to #Palermo, allow a social network to be complicit in a suicide,” she wrote on Friday (translation via Twitter). 

At issue is the death of a child who, according to the Guardian, was attempting to participate in a viral “blackout challenge.”

“The safety of the TikTok community is our absolute priority, for this motive we do not allow any content that encourages, promotes or glorifies behaviour that could be dangerous,” a TikTok spokesman told the Guardian.

This is not the first time TikTok has gotten into trouble in Italy. Just this past December, the GPDP initiated official proceedings against the company for issues relating to minors on its platform. 

“TikTok’s signup ban for children under 13 is actually easy to circumvent by entering a false birth date,” reads the announcement. “Thus, TikTok does not prevent kids from registering nor does it check that Italian privacy legislation is complied with — indeed, in Italy registration of a child under 14 with a social network requires the consent to be authorized by parents or the holders of parental authority.”

Notably, at present it’s not clear what form of age verification the GPDP will require going forward for TikTok users. 





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