EU confirms multiple ongoing investigations into TikTok data practices

Regulators are looking into data transfers to China and ads targeted at minors.

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TikTok app logo is seen in this illustration taken, August 22, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
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The president of the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, has confirmed there are multiple ongoing investigations into TikTok. The probes concern the transfer of EU citizens' data to China and targeted advertising aimed at minors. Investigators are seeking to ensure that TikTok meets General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements.

“The data practices of TikTok, including with respect to international data transfers, are the object of several ongoing proceedings,” Ursula von der Leyden wrote 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 was responding to concerns raised by members of the European Parliament regarding Chinese public authorities potentially gaining access to EU citizens' TikTok data, following a report by BuzzFeed News. The app's data practices have been under the EU's spotlight for a while. Earlier this year, TikTok agreed to enforce certain policies concerning ads and branded content following a complaint that accused the app of breaching EU consumer rules.

Of course, TikTok has been in hot water on the other side of the Atlantic over its privacy and security practices. Last month, TikTok denied reports that China-based workers for its parent company ByteDance planned to track the location of some US citizens through the app.

TikTok has been moving the data it holds on US users to Oracle data centers in the country in an attempt to placate officials who have been concerned about China potentially using the app against American citizens. In August, it emerged that Oracle was reviewing TikTok's content moderation systems and algorithms to make sure they're not subject to Chinese interference.

Carr, the FCC's senior Republican commissioner, said this month that TikTok should be banned in the US. He previously urged Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores.

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EU confirms multiple ongoing investigations into TikTok data practices