TikTok has until Friday to respond to Italy’s order to block users it can’t age-verify after girl’s death – TechCrunch

by Jeremy

TikTok has until Friday to respond to an order by Italy’s data protection agency to block users whose age it cannot verify, TechCrunch has learned. The GPDP made an ‘immediate’ order Friday in response to a 10-year-old girl from Palermo who died of asphyxiation after participating in a ‘blackout challenge’ on the social network, according to reports in local media. The agency said the ban would remain in place until February 15 — suggesting it would make another assessment about any additional action at that point.

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At the time of writing, it does not appear that TikTok has taken action to comply with the GPDP’s order.

A spokeswoman told us it is reviewing the notification. “We have received and are currently reviewing the notification from Garante,” she said. “Privacy and safety are top priorities for TikTok, and we are constantly strengthening our policies, processes, and technologies to protect all users and our younger users in particular.”

The GPDP had already raised concerns about children’s privacy on TikTok, warning in December that its age verification checks are easily circumvented and raising objections over default settings that make users’ content public. On December 22, it also announced a formal procedure — giving TikTok 30 days to respond.

The order to block users whose age it cannot verify is in addition to that action. If TikTok does not comply with the GPDP’s administrative order, it could face enforcement from the Italian agency, drawing on penalty powers set out in the GDPR.

TikTok’s spokeswoman declined to answer additional questions about the order — which prohibits it from further processing user data “for whom there is no absolute certainty of age”, per GPDP’s press release Friday.

The company also did not respond when we asked if it had submitted a response to the agency’s formal procedure.

In a statement last week following the girl’s death, the company said: “Our deepest sympathies are with the girl’s family and friends. At TikTok, the safety of our community — in particular our younger users — is our priority, and we do not allow content that encourages, promotes, or glorifies dangerous behavior that might lead to injury. We offer robust safety controls and resources for teens and families on our platform, and we regularly evolve our policies and protections in our ongoing commitment to our community.

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