Tech reviews

Fine in Italy and national security review in Canada add to TikTok’s growing woes

The fine has been imposed on three units of China’s ByteDance, namely Ireland’s TikTok Technology, TikTok Information Technologies UK and TikTok Italy.


Protests at US Congress after House passes bill that could potentially ban TikTok nationwide

Protests at US Congress after House passes bill that could potentially ban TikTok nationwide

The watchdog said TikTok had not fully complied with guidelines it had advertised to reassure consumers the app was a “safe” space.

“In fact, the guidelines are applied without adequately accounting for the specific vulnerability of adolescents, characterised by peculiar cognitive mechanisms from which derive, for instance, the difficulty in distinguishing reality from fiction and the tendency to emulate group behaviour,” it said.

It added that “potentially dangerous” content is promoted through TikTok’s recommendation system.

It highlighted the “French scar challenge”, where children pinch their cheeks violently to create bruising, a phenomenon explained by numerous tutorials on TikTok that has caused concern in the education and health sectors.

In a statement, TikTok said it disagreed with the watchdog’s decision.

“There were only on average 100 daily searches in Italy for so-called ‘French Scar’ content before the AGCM announced its investigation last year,” it said.

“We have for a long time limited the visibility of this content to the under-18s, and made it ineligible in the ‘For You’ feed.”

TikTok CEO Chew Shou Zi seen in Washington on Thursday. Photo: Getty Images via AFP

Meanwhile, Canada’s industry ministry said on Thursday that the country ordered a national security review of a proposal by TikTok to expand the short-video app’s business in the country.

The potential outcome of the review, which could range from Canada asking TikTok to take mitigation measures to even blocking the expansion, could add to the company’s growing woes.

On Wednesday, the US House passed a bill to force ByteDance to divest the US assets of the app or face a ban. The measure is the latest in a series of moves in Washington to respond to US national security concerns about China, from connected vehicles to advanced artificial intelligence chips to cranes at US ports.

The Canadian review is focused only on TikTok’s investment plan, according to a statement from industry ministry, meaning it is unlikely to result in an outright ban like the one proposed in the US.

US House overwhelmingly passes bill to force ByteDance to divest TikTok

“Our government is closely following developments related to the bill being proposed by US lawmakers,” a government spokesperson said. The spokesperson declined to comment on the specifics of Canada’s reviews but added it was not related to the US bill.

Under Canadian law, the government can assess potential risks to national security from foreign investments such as the TikTok proposal. The law prevents the government from revealing the details of such investments.

Canada last year banned TikTok from government-issued devices, saying it presents an “unacceptable” level of risk to privacy and security. Canada’s privacy commissioner is also investigating TikTok’s collection, use and disclosure of personal information.

A TikTok spokesperson said in a statement that the company was cooperating with the national security review.

We “remain committed to ensuring the safety and security of the platform for the millions of Canadian creators, artists and small businesses who rely on TikTok to earn a living, find community and create jobs,” the spokesperson said.


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