The order comes after the death of a 10-year-old girl in Palermo, whose parents told authorities that their daughter was involved in a "blackout challenge”That he saw in the application. The child died of suffocation and authorities are investigating whether anyone called her to try the challenge.
The Italian Data Protection Authority has ordered TikTok exclude all unverified users in Italy until at least 15 February. The company Reported told the Guardian that it did not find content on its platform that would encourage the child to take part in the challenge, but said it was working with researchers.
"Privacy and security are top priorities for TikTok and we continuously strengthen our policies, processes and technologies to protect all users and in particular our younger users ”, said a representative of TikTok in an email to The Verge.
According to the terms of service, users must be at least 13 years old to register at TikTok, but the Italian authorities said it was easy for anyone to circumvent this rule. The TikTok has a US version of its application for children under 13 (TikTok for Younger Users) which limits content and interaction in children.
As its popularity grew, the TikTok spent much of last year adding more privacy checks to newer user accounts. It introduced remote parental controls and allowed parents to change their children's privacy settings in the app. Earlier this month, the TikTok Update the default privacy settings for users ages 13 to 15, setting limits on who can view and comment on their videos.
However, proponents of privacy have argued that TikTok does not do enough to protect children on his platform. Beijing-based parent company ByteDance has paid a $ 5,7 million fine to the US Federal Trade Commission in 2019 for an earlier version of TikTok called Musical.ly, for violating the Internet Privacy Act (COPPA) by allowing users under the age of 13 to use the app without their parents' consent.
The temporary suspension of unverified accounts in Italy prohibits TikTok to "further process user data for which there is no absolute certainty about age".