Regulators must intervene to protect young TikTok users

Dutch and European regulators have to intervene with the video app TikTok to guarantee the safety of users. That is the opinion of the Foundation for Market Information Research (SOMI). For example, the age check of 13 years would be easy to circumvent. Child predators are also looking for victims via the social medium.

This article was published on 28th January 2021 on Radar in the Netherlands. 
Please find the English translation below.

The Chinese app is extremely popular with young people. 'A recent survey by research firm Multiscope shows that the use of TikTok in the Netherlands among 12-year-olds is highest at 64 percent', says Cor Wijtvliet, co-founder of SOMI. Children under the age of 16 require parental consent for an account.

'A paradise for predators with life-threatening challenges'

The Italian privacy watchdog has urged TikTok to ban all users whose age it cannot verify. That decision followed the death of a 10-year-old Italian girl who used the app a lot. According to her parents, she died after participating in a 'blackout challenge' where people let themselves suffocate for as long as possible while filming themselves. 'In addition to the many dangerous challenges, TikTok is a paradise for child predators,' says SOMI. "We are waiting for a serious incident here in the Netherlands."

Objection from the United States to protect data

Recently, researcher Apptopia reported that TikTok would be the most downloaded app of 2020 worldwide. At least 850 million people have put the app on their phone or tablet, according to the figures. TikTok has also been under heavy fire in the United States for months. Trump argued that TikTok is storing too much data, which would end up with the Chinese government through parent company ByteDance.

The then-president demanded that TikTok's US operations be sold to an American party, otherwise the app would have to go black in the US. In September, Trump agreed to a plan by Oracle and Walmart that would transfer TikTok's US operations into a new company. But TikTok continued to oppose US government interference.

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