The European Union warned TikTok it will face a ban if it doesn’t comply with local rules and regulations regarding the privacy policies of country members. The EU’s internal market top official told TikTok’s CEO on Thursday that the company needs to align its business model with the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA) before the September 1 deadline, Reuters reported.
European Commissioner Thierry Breton told TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, “We will not hesitate to adopt the full scope of sanctions to protect our citizens if audits do not show full compliance,” according to the outlet.
However, a TikTok spokesperson said in an emailed statement to Gizmodo that “a TikTok ban in Europe was not discussed by the parties.” The spokesperson added that the company is “fully committed to implementing the DSA’s provisions” and will continue to implement resources to comply with the EU’s regulations “through greater transparency and accountability.”
The DSA was put in place to standardize the rules for online content within the EU, forcing companies to take a stronger and more proactive stance on transparency, moderation, and content removal on their platforms.
TikTok’s director of public policy, Caroline Greer tweeted that Chew and Breton had a “good exchange” during their meeting, adding that the company “welcomed the opportunity to reiterate our commitment to the #DSA. We also outlined our efforts to ensure compliance with the GDPR & the Code of Practice on Disinformation. The safety of our users is paramount.”
The meeting comes less than a month after TikTok admitted that several employees had accessed two journalists’ data on the platform to try to ascertain the source of information leaked to the media. In the wake of the admission, the company fired the employees, and Chew said in an email to staff, “The individuals involved misused their authority to obtain access to TikTok user data,” adding, “This is unacceptable,” CNN reported.
Other social media companies have come under scrutiny by the EU in recent weeks including Meta and Twitter, in which the EU warned if they did not strictly comply with the DSA by September 1 they would face fines or bans.
Breton told Chew in their meeting, “We will not hesitate to adopt the full scope of sanctions to protect our citizens if audits do not show full compliance,” according to Reuters, and wrote a blanket statement about social media platforms in a blog post headlined “Are some social media a wolf in disguise?”
He questioned the legitimacy of social media companies, saying they put young users at risk of “deadly challenges, cyberbullying, misinformation, data leaks,” and others. Without specifying which media apps he is referring to, Breton accuses some platforms of collecting user data and sending it outside of Europe to potentially be used for “political or economic gain.”
He encouraged all businesses to come to Europe, but said “with younger audiences comes greater responsibility” and businesses are only welcome “provided they respect our rules. All our rules.”