General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) , Governance & Risk Management , Privacy

TikTok Chief Summoned by EU Lawmakers For Privacy Probe

Parliamentary Committee Heads Says In-Person Appearance Would be 'Beneficial'
TikTok Chief Summoned by EU Lawmakers For Privacy Probe
Image: Shutterstock

The head of video app TikTok has been summoned by European lawmakers from different parliamentary committees for an inquiry into its privacy practices.

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In a letter sent to TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew on Thursday, the heads of five European Parliament committees requested that Chew appear for an in-person probe.

The letter signatories include heads of Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Internal Market and Consumer Protection, Industry, Research and Energy Security and Defense committees.

Concerns raised by the lawmakers include TikTok's data protection and processing practices, particularly that of children, as well as its content moderation features and algorithms. Western governments have voiced concern over the short form video's app ownership by Beijing-based ByteDance, questioning whether the Chinese government could access user data for intelligence purposes or spread disinformation.

In the United States, successive presidential administration have pressured ByteDance to divest from TikTok. In March, Chew faced a barrage of questions from American lawmakers on the company's privacy and security practices (see: TikTok CEO Aims to Assure Lawmakers Americans' Data Is Safe).

The letter from the European lawmakers comes just a month after the Irish Data Protection Commissioner fined TikTok 345 million euros following an investigation concluding that TikTok failed to adequately protect children's privacy in violation of the General Data Protection Regulation (see: TikTok Fined 345 Million Euros by Irish Privacy Watchdog).

Resolution of the DPC's inquiry was delayed by contention between the Irish agency and other European privacy regulators over whether TikTok violated the GDPR's principle of "fairness" in processing personal data by deploying dark patterns - a user interface designed to trick users into agreeing with a company's preferred outcome,.

In their letter, the lawmakers said they will review TikTok's dark patterns. "We believe that such a hearing with Europe's lawmakers would be of crucial importance," they said.

Thursday's letter is the second time the committee members are reaching out to Chew, after an initial invite made in July. TikTok's vice president for European public policy Theo Bertram at the time said that Chew would not appear in person.

Lawmakers said that Chew's "in-person participation" would be the most "beneficial way" for the company to engage with the European Parliament's members.

TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


About the Author

Akshaya Asokan

Akshaya Asokan

Senior Correspondent, ISMG

Asokan is a U.K.-based senior correspondent for Information Security Media Group's global news desk. She previously worked with IDG and other publications, reporting on developments in technology, minority rights and education.




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