In the midst of mounting public criticism and legal issues, CEO Shou Zi Chew meets with the EU’s top digital policymaker in Brussels.
As TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew travels to Brussels on Tuesday to meet with top digital policymaker Margrethe Vestager, his business confronts a plethora of legal, regulatory, and security difficulties in the EU, as well as a growing chorus of public criticism.
French President Emmanuel Macron has been one of the most vocal detractors, calling TikTok “deceptively innocent” and a source of “serious addiction” among users, as well as a source of Russian disinformation. Such remarks have coincided with intense media coverage in France, with the front page of Le Parisien on December 29 labeling TikTok “a serious risk for the minds of our children.”
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New limitations may be necessary. According to two persons in the room, during a November trip to the United States, Macron told a group of American investors and French IT CEOs that he intended to control TikTok. TikTok disputes that it is dangerous and claims that it has safeguards in place to protect children on the platform.
It was Not Clear
While it wasn’t clear what rules Macron was referring to — his office declined to comment — the remarks added to a darkening tableau for TikTok.
In answers to emailed questions, France’s digital minister Jean-Noel Barrot said that France would rely on the DSA and DMA to regulate TikTok at an EU level, though he “remained vigilant on these ever-evolving models” of ad-supported social media. Barrot added that he “never failed to maintain a level of pressure appropriate to the stakes of the DSA” in meetings with TikTok executives.
Thierry Breton, the EU’s internal market commissioner, cautioned Chew ahead of his visit to Brussels to “respect the integrality of our standards,” according to statements the commissioner made in Spain and quoted by Reuters. Vestager’s spokesman stated that she intended to “examine how the corporation was planning to comply with its (potential) duties under our legislation.”
However, the investigations TikTok is facing are for potential infractions that have already occurred. If Ireland’s data regulator, which conducts investigations on behalf of other EU nations, determines that TikTok violated the EU’s privacy rules, the General Data Protection Regulation, penalties may amount to up to 4% of the company’s global revenue. The DSA allows for even harsher penalties.