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EU opens second probe into TikTok Lite, accusing it of breaking the Digital Services Act

The TikTok logo on a white pink and blue background

The European Union has today opened a second formal investigation into TikTok as it suspects the platform of breaking the Digital Services Act due to the launch of TikTok Lite in France and Spain while intending to suspend the reward programme within the app in the EU. These measures could also extend to suspending the app altogether, not the first region to consider doing so

TikTok Lite is a version of TikTok designed for "Users who have less than 2GB of RAM, limited data, or who connect to 2G or 3G networks." It also includes a Task and Reward Program, which allows users to earn in-app currency while performing certain "tasks" on the platform. These points, which can be gained through watching videos, liking content, following creators, inviting friends, etc. can then be used to support other creators on the platform.

The EU states that this has been launched in France and Spain "without prior diligent assessment of the risks it entails, in particular those related to the addictive effect of the platforms, and without taking effective risk mitigating measures." Particularly, the EU is concerned about the lack of effective age verification mechanisms on the platform, which is already being investigated.

This second investigation aims to focus on the following areas:

  • TikTok's compliance with the DSA obligation to conduct and submit a risk assessment report prior to deploying functionalities, in this case the “Task and Reward Lite” program, that are likely to have a critical impact on systemic risks. In particular negative effects on mental health, including minors' mental health, especially as a result of the new feature stimulating addictive behavior.
  • The measures taken by TikTok to mitigate those risks.

The key deadlines for this investigation for TikTok are to submit the risk assessment report to the Commission by the 23rd of April, and to provide the other information required by the 3rd of May. If TikTok fails to reply to the request for information, it can be fined up to 1% of its total annual income or worldwide turnover and periodic penalties of up to 5% of the average daily income or worldwide annual turnover.

The Commission also intends to suspend the reward programme as a part of the interim measures pending the assessment of the safety of the programme, TikTok has been given until 24th April to bring arguments in its defense.

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