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TikTok CEO to meet EU regulators in Brussels

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TikTok, whose parent company ByteDance is Chinese, is under pressure on both sides of the Atlantic./AFP
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Jan 10, 2023 - 08:07 AM

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM — TikTok’s chief executive will hold talks with top EU officials in Brussels on Tuesday as the West steps up its scrutiny of the Chinese-owned social media giant.

Shou Zi Chew will meet EU vice-presidents Margrethe Vestager and Vera Jourova, the bloc’s home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson and justice commissioner Didier Reynders.

On the agenda will be issues like privacy, content regulation and child safety online.

TikTok, whose parent company ByteDance is Chinese, is under pressure on both sides of the Atlantic, as the West reviews its relations with Beijing on multiple fronts.

Some US lawmakers want to stop TikTok operating in the United States and last month Washington banned the video-sharing app from federal government devices, as fears grow about US citizens’ data in the hands of China.

ByteDance is already under investigation by the Irish privacy regulator, the DPC, over whether it violated the EU’s massive data protection law, the GDPR, in the way it processed children’s personal data and over transfers of data to China.

The DPC has submitted a draft decision in the investigation on children’s data to relevant supervisory authorities. In November, TikTok admitted some staff in China can access the data of European users.

ByteDance also came under heavy criticism last year after it was revealed it spied on journalists from various media outlets including Bloomberg.

The company strenuously denies the Chinese government has any control over TikTok.

The EU is building a formidable legal arsenal against technology companies, passing two major laws to ensure social media platforms follow the bloc’s rules.

Chew’s visit comes after the Digital Services Act (DSA), which imposes stricter online regulation, came into effect in November.

The DSA forces social media platforms, online marketplaces and search engines to react more quickly to remove content deemed in breach of EU regulations.

Vestager’s spokeswoman said the meeting was part of many with social media platforms and technology companies, and that TikTok requested the talks.

The bloc’s top official for enforcing digital regulation, Thierry Breton, will hold a video call with Chew on January 19 since he is in Spain this week.

During a press conference in Madrid on Monday, Breton said he would tell Chew “the same thing” he told billionaire Twitter owner Elon Musk, to prepare “to apply all of our rules”.

A TikTok spokesperson said the platform is “fully committed to implementing the DSA’s provisions and (has) been making key resources available from across the business to ensure our future compliance with the regulation”.

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