Is the end of TikTok in Europe possible? Investigations in the EU


Since the TikTok social network is now allowed in the United States (after a period of banishment), it can continue to thrive. Besides, while the American digital giants are tightening their belts due to inflation, the war in Ukraine and other factors (like China’s zero-COVID policy), TikTok is still growing.

And while its rival Meta is laying off, TikTok is still recruiting. Recently, a CNN article indicated that the social network still plans to recruit nearly 1,000 engineers for its offices in Mountain View (therefore, near Google HQ).

TikTok resists the crisis, but is still threatened in the USA

Apparently, thanks to its growth and relative cost prudence, TikTok is more resilient. However, due to the fact that the social network is offered by a Chinese company, ByteDance, it is constantly under threat.

As a reminder, in the United States, the ban on the app had been narrowly avoided. However, this current device to ensure data protection is not unanimous. Within the FCC, the commerce regulator, Brendan Carr, a Republican member of the commission, is in favor of an outright ban on TikTok in the United States.

The case of Europe mentioned as an example

To defend his opinion, the member of the FCC commission regularly evokes the case of Europe. This November, TikTok admitted that employees based in China may have access to European user data.

More exactly, the social network had explained, in a press release, that the data of its European users are stored in servers in the USA and Singapore. However, Chinese employees may have remote access.

“Subject to a demonstrated need to perform their job, a series of robust security checks and approval protocols, and through recognized methods under the GDPR, we allow certain employees in our group located in Brazil, Canada, China, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea and the United States to remotely access TikTok user data”, explained Elaine Fox, head of privacy issues for TikTok in Europe.

In any case, that was enough to arouse suspicion. And long before that, members of the European Parliament had challenged the European Commission on the subject.

Ongoing investigations at the local level

In a recent tweet, Brendan Carr shares European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s response to MEPs. In it, von der Leyen recalls the rules that apply to data transfers.

In essence, under the GDPR, if TikTok transfers data to its parent company or to subsidiaries outside Europe, the social network must ensure that these transfers do not impact the level of protection of user data. applying in Europe. And, according to the President of the Commission, this concerns access to data by the public authorities of the recipient countries.

Nevertheless, in principle, still according to the president, it is the local authorities which are competent for this type of business. In France, it is the CNIL.

In any case, investigations are already underway within the European Union. Ursula von der Leyen cites an investigation by the Irish CNIL on several points of the GDPR, which includes data transfers to China. A similar investigation was also opened by the CNIL of the Netherlands.

Is a ban possible?

For the moment, unlike in the United States, there is not really a debate on a possible banishment of TikTok in the European Union. On the other hand, what is more likely is that the EU will push for the social network to change its practices.

For example, this year, a dialogue on consumer protection between different EU stakeholders and TikTok led to changes regarding the social network’s business practices.

“All social media platforms are required to follow the rules and ensure that consumers can easily identify commercial content, including when promoted by influencers. We welcome TikTok’s desire to make the way it conducts its economic activity more transparent”declared Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice.


By: TikTok Pte. ltd.

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