The European Data Protection Board (EDPB) on Wednesday announced it will establish a task force to investigate the processing and privacy practices of controversial social media service TikTok.
The move comes in response to a request from Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Moritz Körner of Germany. In November, Körner asked the European Commission whether it had been in touch with the EDPB regarding TikTok after reports surfaced that the United States launched a national security review into the China-based app’s parent company ByteDance and its acquisition of U.S. social media app Musical.ly.
“Are there concerns about TikTok’s data collection methods?” Körner asked. “Does the Commission believe that TikTok poses a security risk to the EU or its Member States?”
Körner then sent a letter to the EDPB regarding TikTok, which the Board originally tabled for discussion at a plenary session in February.
The EDPB has formed the task force to seek to acquire a more comprehensive overview of TikTok’s privacy practices and coordinate any potential actions against the company. Two months ago, the Dutch Data Protection Authority announced it had launched an investigation into TikTok over children’s privacy concerns; a similar probe had already been under way in the United Kingdom since July 2019.
In February 2019, the operators of Musical.ly, which had been acquired by TikTok at that point, agreed to pay $5.7 million to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to settle allegations that the company illegally collected personal information from children. It was the largest civil penalty ever obtained by the FTC in a children’s privacy case at the time.
The EDPB on Wednesday also addressed concerns raised by MEPs regarding Clearview AI. The U.S.-based facial image aggregator has become popular among law enforcement agencies; the EDPB said it has doubts as to whether any member state can provide legal basis for its authorities to use such a service in accordance with EU law enforcement directives.
“Without prejudice to further analysis on the basis of additional elements provided, the EDPB is therefore of the opinion that the use of a service such as Clearview AI by law enforcement authorities in the European Union would, as it stands, likely not be consistent with the EU data protection regime,” the Board said.
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