May 23, 2024

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TikTok could face fines from the European Union and the suspension of its sister app TikTok Lite

TikTok could face fines from the European Union and the suspension of its sister app TikTok Lite


European officials are threatening TikTok with huge fines and possible forced suspension this week for parts of a new sub-app, launched this month, which regulators claim contains addictive features.

The warnings target TikTok Lite, a less data-intensive version of the main TikTok app that has a feature that rewards users with money for interacting with TikTok content and app features.

EU officials fear that this feature could be used to turn TikTok Lite users into addicts who cannot stop using the app, and described it as an “experiment” on unwitting EU citizens in Spain and France where TikTok Lite was made available.

The European Union's announcement on Monday represents the trade bloc's announcement The second major investigation into TikTok It focuses in particular on TikTok Lite and what officials said were the risks of serious harm to users' mental health.

The move comes days after the US House of Representatives approved legislation that could eventually ban TikTok from the United States due to national security concerns. The US Senate is expected to adopt the measure early this week, as part of a vote on foreign aid to Israel and Ukraine.

The latest EU investigation marks the first time that Commission officials have flexed their powers using certain new tools granted to them under Europe's far-reaching new law regulating online platforms, the Digital Services Act (DSA).

“This is evidence of the fact that when we say that simple protection is a priority under the DRA, we really mean it,” a European Commission official told reporters on Monday.

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“We are disappointed by this decision,” a TikTok spokesperson said in response to the EU warnings. “The TikTok Lite Rewards Center is not available to those under the age of 18, and there is a daily limit on video viewing tasks. We will continue discussions with the Commission.”

The European Commission said on Monday that it has given TikTok 48 hours to defend its rewards program to officials, after which TikTok could be asked to suspend the rewards feature in TikTok Lite as an urgent temporary measure. Commission officials told reporters in a conference call that a decision to order the suspension could be issued as early as Thursday. The suspension can last for 60 days and can be renewed repeatedly.

In addition, TikTok could be fined for failing to provide the Commission with information it owes regarding TikTok Lite, including a risk assessment report and a separate report outlining steps the company has taken to mitigate those risks. European Union officials sent for the first time Request for information last week. It is separate from the other Ongoing DSA investigation In TikTok, which launched in February, due to the company's approach to dealing with harm to users in general.

Failure to deliver a TikTok Lite risk assessment by Tuesday, and a risk mitigation report by May 3, could result in fines of up to 1% of TikTok's global annual revenue and “periodic penalties” of up to 5% of TikTok's average daily revenue. . The committee said.

TikTok could face additional additional fines of up to 6% of its global annual revenue if TikTok Lite features investigated by the Commission are determined to be violations of the DSA.

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A Commission official said that the potential forced suspension and possible fines are procedural tools that the European Commission has not used before under the DSA law.

“Until now, this has not been necessary at all, because in all of our more than 40 requests for information that have been sent, companies have always provided information,” the official told reporters by phone. “In general, we have never received a response to our request for information.”

Commission officials repeatedly declined to specify whether TikTok had provided an explanation for why it had not provided the requested information.

This story has been updated with additional information.