TikTok is not compliant with upcoming EU digital rules, test shows

19 Jul 2023

Image: © NINENII/Stock.adobe.com

A recent voluntary ‘stress test’ shows TikTok is not fully compliant with the DSA, the EU’s landmark act to tackle illegal content online.

TikTok still has a way to go to become compliant with upcoming EU rules around online content, according to a recent test.

The video hosting company agreed to a “stress test” with the European Commission, to test if TikTok’s services are prepared for the Digital Services Act (DSA). This is the EU’s landmark rules to tackle illegal content online, by imposing new rules on larger companies.

The stress test took place at TikTok’s Dublin offices, according to the company’s director of public policy and government relations Caroline Greer.

“TikTok is fully committed to implementing the DSA and enhancing transparency and accountability,” Greer said on Twitter. “We welcome these opportunities to be open about our efforts and look forward to continuing to engage with the EU Commission.”

Internal markets commissioner Thierry Breton shared a video on Twitter, showing a “constructive debrief” with TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew after the voluntary stress test.

“Recent events have shown the impact TikTok has on democracies – and how important independent [EU] enforcement is,” Breton said. “Now is time to accelerate to be fully compliant.”

Breton said that more work is needed for TikTok to be fully compliant and warned that the company will be one of the commission’s first targets for scrutiny under the DSA, Bloomberg reports.

It is unclear exactly what TikTok has to do to become fully compliant with the digital rules. A TikTok spokesperson told SiliconRepublic.com that the company updated the European Commission on Monday 17 July about its progress, including “building new tools to increase user control, enhancing transparency reporting and collaborating with third party experts”.

“It was a constructive meeting and we’ll continue to update on the work we’re doing to meet our compliance requirements,” the spokesperson said.

The DSA is expected to enter into force by the start of 2024 at the latest and features strict rules for “very large online platforms” (VLOPs), which includes TikTok. These companies will need to be compliant with their obligations by roughly the end of August this year.

These platforms will be required to stay on top of content moderation, along with the threat of annual audits around these practices. They will need to be able to monitor and manage any harmful content, including disinformation.

Regulators who find businesses to be non-compliant will be able to issue fines of up to 6pc of a company’s global turnover. Around 17 companies were labelled as VLOPs since April 2022 when the DSA was agreed upon.

Earlier this month, Amazon challenged being labelled as a VLOP and claimed it is being “unfairly singled out”.

Meanwhile, TikTok’s parent company Bytedance was one of seven Big Tech companies to declare to the EU that they qualify as “gatekeepers” under the Digital Markets Act (DMA), the sister act to the DSA that aims to reign in the dominance of bigger companies.

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Updated 19 July 10:30am: This article was updated to include a comment from a TikTok spokesperson.

Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic