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UK MPs to quiz TikTok on data privacy as government mulls restrictions


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UK MPs to quiz TikTok on data privacy as government mulls restrictions

U.K. members of Parliament are to question Chinese video-sharing app TikTok as part of an investigation into how online content-sharing platforms should be regulated.

A subcommittee of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee will talk to TikTok's Director of Public Policy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Theo Bertram, on Sept. 22.

According to its website, the subcommittee can gather evidence for two inquiries: "Online Harms and Disinformation" and "Online Harms and the Ethics of Data." Chaired by Conservative Member of Parliament Julian Knight, the subcommittee is made up of six Conservative MPs, four Labour MPs and one from the Scottish National Party.

The U.K. government has consulted on draft legislation to tackle the spread of harmful or misleading content online — the "Online Harms White Paper" — but the law may not come into force until 2023 or 2024.

The subcommittee's meeting with Beijing Byte Dance Telecommunications Co. Ltd.-owned TikTok will consider "Allegations of political censorship and action [TikTok] has taken to remove harmful content."

"With TikTok's popularity among young teens, the subcommittee will focus on how the company protects the data and privacy of children online, wider data policy, the use of algorithms and its platform design.".

Creator and co-host of the podcast "Tech Buzz China," Rui Ma, and the Financial Times' deputy Beijing bureau chief and former tech correspondent, Yuan Yang, will also give evidence during the Sept. 22 session. They will discuss "wider political issues facing TikTok in a global context," according to the subcommittee's agenda.

The meeting with MPs follows reports that the social media app, which boasts 100 million European users, is considering setting up an international headquarters in the U.K. as part of a major regional expansion that has also seen it announce a $500 million Irish data center.

While that facility is intended for EU user data, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's senior aides are reportedly in favor of TikTok storing U.K. user information locally.

Over the weekend, President Donald Trump said he had agreed in principle to a deal that would see TikTok Inc. partner with database software firm Oracle Corp. and Walmart Inc. and be allowed to continue to operate in the U.S.


Sept. 21 The European Parliament will discuss how best to apply artificial intelligence to education, culture and the audiovisual sector.

United Kingdom

Sept. 22 TikTok Director of Public Policy EMEA Theo Bertram will appear before a parliamentary committee probing social media regulation.
Sept. 24 U.K. members of Parliament are to examine the country's connectivity roadmap for 5G and ultrafast broadband rollouts with trade bodies.

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