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EU Demands Risk Assessment from ByteDance for TikTok Lite Within 24 Hours

ByHuey Yee Ong

Apr 18, 2024
EU Demands Risk Assessment from ByteDance for TikTok Lite Within 24 Hours

EU Demands Risk Assessment from ByteDance for TikTok Lite Within 24 Hours

TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, is once again under scrutiny by the European Union (EU) over concerns related to its compliance with the Digital Services Act (DSA).

The EU has given ByteDance a 24-hour ultimatum to submit a risk assessment for TikTok Lite, a new app iteration that includes a rewards-based feature potentially appealing to minors.

This request is part of the EU’s broader initiative to ensure that online platforms adhere to regulations aimed at protecting users, particularly younger demographics, from systemic risks such as addictive behaviors and content that may impact mental health.

Launch of TikTok Lite Raises EU Regulatory Concerns

TikTok Lite was recently introduced in a test phase in France and Spain.

Unlike the standard TikTok app, TikTok Lite allows users who are confirmed to be over 18 to earn points for activities like liking content or following new creators. These points can be exchanged for gift cards or “coins” which users can gift to creators.

This new “Task and Reward Lite” program is primarily what triggered the EU’s concerns, prompting them to investigate whether such incentives might encourage addictive behavior among users.

The European Commission, responsible for overseeing compliance with the DSA, has asked TikTok for more detailed information regarding the risk assessments it should have conducted prior to launching the new app in EU territories. The focus is particularly on how the rewards program could impact minors and the overall mental health of its users.

Additionally, the Commission is inquiring about measures TikTok has implemented to mitigate these risks.

EU’s Request for Immediate Compliance

The urgency of the Commission’s request suggests they are highly concerned about the potential implications of the rewards feature. If ByteDance fails to comply with the DSA regulations, it could face fines up to 6% of its global annual turnover.

The broader impact of the DSA is significant as it could influence how platforms design their products to avoid fostering harmful behaviors. The Act’s provisions aim to make online environments safer by requiring platforms to address systemic risks proactively.

TikTok is already under investigation by the EU for other DSA obligations related to minor protection and the management of harmful content. This ongoing scrutiny was compounded by a formal investigation launched by the Commission in February concerning similar issues. The current request for information (RFI) from the EU indicates that there might be additional concerns that require immediate attention.

TikTok’s Ongoing Regulatory Challenges in the EU

In response to the EU’s inquiry, a TikTok spokesperson stated that the company had been in direct contact with the Commission regarding TikTok Lite and plans to respond to the RFI promptly.

The company also highlighted certain safeguards in place, such as robust age verification processes involving photo ID submissions and credit card authorizations, and limitations on the daily amount of time and rewards users can accrue.

Despite these measures, the EU remains vigilant in monitoring TikTok’s compliance with the DSA. The regulation’s focus on systemic risk necessitates thorough assessments before introducing features likely to attract minors.

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Featured Image courtesy of LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP via Getty Images

Huey Yee Ong

Hello, from one tech geek to another. Not your beloved TechCrunch writer, but a writer with an avid interest in the fast-paced tech scenes and all the latest tech mojo. I bring with me a unique take towards tech with a honed applied psychology perspective to make tech news digestible. In other words, I deliver tech news that is easy to read.

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