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TikTok EU ban on the table if social network doesn’t comply with new laws

Published Jan 20th, 2023 12:28PM EST
TikTok sign
Image: Mario Tama/Getty Images

TikTok is one of the most popular social networks out there. But TikTok is also a cause of concern for western governments that worry about the company’s ties to the Chinese government. TikTok can’t run on most devices the US government issues, and there has been talk of a nationwide ban of the app. The European Union (EU) is also considering a TikTok ban in the region, giving the company until September to comply with local legislation.

TikTok will have to regulate online content posted on the network or risk a ban in the region.

Specifically, TikTok has to comply with the new Digital Services Act (DSA) law in the EU, Reuters reports. The deadline is September 1st, European Commissioner Thierry Breton told TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew during a phone call.

The DSA is new EU legislation targeting companies like TikTok and other social networks. These companies will have to do more to police content that appears on their networks. These moderation and content removal policies will also apply to other tech giants, including Meta (Facebook), Twitter, and others.

“We will not hesitate to adopt the full scope of sanctions to protect our citizens if audits do not show full compliance,” Breton said of the potential TikTok ban.

However, TikTok did not acknowledge the potential of getting banned in Europe for not complying with the DSA rules. “A TikTok ban in Europe was not discussed by the parties,” said a TikTok spokesperson in an email to Gizmodo.

The company is “fully committed to implementing the DSA’s provisions,” the person added. TikTok will continue implementing resources to comply with the EU’s laws “through greater transparency and accountability.”

Publicly, TikTok’s director of public policy Caroline Greer took to Twitter to address the talks between the EU and the company:

Good exchange between @shouchew & Commissioner @ThierryBreton today. We welcomed the opportunity to reiterate our commitment to the #DSA. We also outlined our efforts to ensure compliance with the GDPR & the Code of Practice on Disinformation. The safety of our users is paramount

Separately, Thierry Bretton addressed the dangers of some of the current social media apps in a blog post on LinkedIn on Thursday. He did not single out TikTok as a target for a local ban.

“Some platforms, particularly popular among the younger generation, gained immense popularity due to their short videos featuring catchy music, dancing routines, and visually appealing effects,” the EU commissioner said, emphasizing the features bolded in the quote above. He didn’t name TikTok, but the quote certainly can apply to the app.

The EU official said that “the once-candid reputation of platforms has been tarnished by a number of controversies.” He listed the following “controversies:”

  • Deadly challenges
  • Cyberbullying
  • Disinformation, notably from Russia
  • Manipulation of elections
  • Promotion of eating disorder habits
  • Data leaks
  • Use of the platform for spying on reporters

Furthermore, Breton noted another TikTok worry that the US also shares: the collection of data from local users that social networks send to other countries. Again, he didn’t name TikTok. But he said that other countries might use social network user data for political or economic gains, as well as targeted advertising and political manipulation.

The official also detailed the DSA regulations and their timeline. He stressed that a temporary ban of services is possible in case the companies do not comply. There’s plenty of time for TikTok to avoid the ban in the EU. But it’ll take time to see how the Chinese social network plans to comply.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.