Italy takes action against TikTok following girl's death

Elias Hubbard
January 23, 2021

Italy's data protection authority said Friday it was imposing an immediate block on TikTok's access to data for any user whose age has not been verified.

According to TikTok's terms and conditions, users must be aged at least 13.

"The authority has made a decision to intervene as a matter of urgency following the awful story of the 10-year-old girl from Palermo", the authority, called Garante, said in a statement Friday.

TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, said on Friday it had not managed to identify any content on its site that could have encouraged the girl to participate in any such challenge, but was helping the authorities in the probe over possible "incitement to suicide".

The so-called "blackout challenge" refers to wrapping a scarf or similar object around the neck to restrict oxygen to the brain, which creates a temporary high.

"We didn't know", the girl's father told the newspaper, "we didn't know she was in this game".

"Privacy and safety are absolute priorities for TikTok and we are constantly working to strengthen our policies, our processes and our technologies to protect our community and younger users in particular", she said in an emailed comment. But how could I imagine this atrocity? The girl's cell phone has been seized by investigators, who will need to determine if Antonella was live with other participants, if someone invited her to participate in the challenge, or if she was making this video for a friend or family member. knowledge.

Back in December 2020, Italy's data protection agency filed a lawsuit against the network, accusing it of a "lack of attention to the protection of minors", pointing out that children are able to sign up to the app without having provide sufficient age verification.

The regulator claimed that TikTok had committed to banning registration for kids below 13, but noted that it was not hard to break this rule.

"Social networks can't become a jungle where anything is allowed", proclaimed Licia Ronzulli, president of Italy's parliamentary commission on child protection.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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