TikTok has some explaining to do. EPA-EFE/CAROLINE BREHMAN


EC quizzes TikTok over Lite app’s risk to children

Brussels is pushing ByteDance on whether it is respecting EU transparency and child-protection rules with its newly released app


Brussels is pushing Chinese internet technology company ByteDance on whether it is respecting EU transparency and child-protection rules with its newly released app, TikTok Lite.

On April 17, the firm was given 24 hours by the European Commission to provide comprehensive information about the legally required risk assessment it conducted before launching the app in two EU countries, France and Spain.

Under the Digital Service Act, ByteDance is obliged to carry out risk assessments before deploying functionalities that are likely to have a critical impact on risks to, for example, the mental well-being of the users, an EC spokesperson told Brussels Signal.

The Commission is also particularly concerned with the new app’s “Tasks and Rewards” section, which gives users points for using the app each day.

These points can exchanged for the platform’s own online currency — which can be used to tip creators on the platform — as well as Amazon vouchers and PayPal gift cards.

Such a system, Brussels argues, might pose a danger to children.

“Designated services have to send this assessment to the Commission without undue delay,” the spokesman for the body said.

The body has ordered ByteDance to hand over data by April 26 on the measures it has taken to mitigate the systemic risk the app poses to minors.

Responding to the concerns, a spokesman for the Chinese company said it was in direct contact with the EC regarding the Lite app and “will respond to the request for information”.

It has also claimed there are robust age verification methods built into the platform, and that the app’s rewards section is only available to those over the age of 18.

Daily rewards are also said to be capped, with users unable to earn more than the equivalent of roughly €1 a day through watching videos.

Launched in EU territories for the first time earlier this month, TikTok Lite is a stripped-down version of the popular app and is specifically designed for users with older phones with less than 2GB of RAM and limited storage space. The app is also optimised to work on slower internet speeds, consuming a minimal amount of a user’s mobile data.

The app has already seen success in parts of Asia, with the streamlined product being suited to developing countries.