Will Europe Ban TikTok Now? — It’s a Real Possibility, According to European Commission President

will europe ban TIkTok
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will europe ban TIkTok
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Photo Credit: Markus Spiske

With the United States passing legislation that would require ByteDance to divest from TikTok or face a ban, will Europe be the next to ban TikTok? European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen won’t rule it out.

The potential for a European ban came up during a debate in Maastricht reports Politico, featuring parties’ lead candidates for the 2024 election. In reference to the ban in the United States, von der Leyen said, “It is not excluded,” adding that the European Commission was the first institution to take action and ban TikTok from its corporate phones. “We know exactly the danger of TikTok,” she concluded.

Following an investigation launched by the European Commission into a rewards feature for TikTok Lite, the app voluntarily suspended the program. The EC would examine the feature and whether or not it violates any of the provisions in the recently passed Digital Services Act. TikTok faces another probe for failing to protect minors under the very same DSA rules.

Under the Digital Services Act, TikTok has a legal obligation to mitigate any systemic risks to children’s safety and mental health. Despite launching the new gamified feature, it failed to produce a risk assessment for addictiveness—so regulators decided to open an investigation. Penalties under the DSA can be up to 6% of a companies global annual turnover for breaking the EU rules.

Last week President Biden signed off on a bill that requires Chinese owner ByteDance to fully divest from TikTok on a nine month to a year timeline. ByteDance is gearing up to mount a legal fight, so the legislation could be challenged in court for years. The legislation itself would require Apple and Google to remove access to the TikTok app in their respective app stores.

Even if the ban goes into full effect in the United States, tech savvy users who want to continue using the platform may use a VPN to do so. Similar pornography bans in the United States have resulted in higher VPN use in those states.