Italy announced on Friday January 22 that it had temporarily blocked TikTok access to users who are unable to prove that they are of the minimum age required by the application to register. This is a measure taken urgently, in reaction to the death of a girl who participated in the “headscarf game” on the social network.
The Authority for the Protection of Personal Data has announced in a press release its decision to “Block the social network” Chinese with immediate effect and until February 15, when he must have responded to the injunctions served on him. Until then, he is prohibited from exploiting “The data of users whose age has not been established with absolute security”, detailed the independent authority. This measure should in principle make it impossible to create an account if a user does not provide proof of his age.
This decision comes a few hours after the announcement of the death in Palermo, in Sicily (south), of a 10-year-old girl, suffocated while taking part in a challenge to the “headscarf game” while filming herself with her phone. laptop on TikTok. The registration of this girl on the network, very popular among adolescents, “Has not been refused by the company” despite his young age, “Less than the 13 years minimum provided for by the platform”, emphasizes the Data Protection Authority.
An investigation for “incitement to suicide”
Antonella, 10, had locked herself in the bathroom of the family home on Wednesday to participate in a “Black-out challenge” on TikTok, while checking in with their mobile. It was her 5-year-old sister who discovered her unconscious body. Immediately transported to Palermo Children’s Hospital by her parents, she did not survive.
The Palermo prosecutor’s office said it had opened an investigation into “Incitement to suicide”. The girl’s cell phone has been seized by investigators, who will need to determine if Antonella was live with other participants, if someone invited her to participate in the challenge, or if she was making this video for a friend or family member. knowledge.
The “Scarf game”, in which children block their breathing until fainting for thrills, causes accidents each year, some of which are fatal.
Parents told daily La Repubblica that it was another sister of Antonella, aged 9, who explained to them what had happened: “Antonella played the game of asphyxiation. “” We did not know “, explained the father of the girl to the newspaper. “We didn’t know she was in that game. I knew Antonella was going to TikTok for choreography, to see videos. But how could I imagine this atrocity? “
“My daughter, my little Antonella who dies from extreme gambling on TikTok: how can I accept it?” “ Angelo Sicomero added. Parents donated her organs so that “Other children can live thanks to her”.
Calls for the regulation of social networks
In response to this tragedy, the platform launched in 2016, which claims 100 million users in Europe, issued a statement, assuring that “The safety of the TikTok community is our top priority, we are at the disposal of the competent authorities to collaborate in their investigation”.
The Italian Data Protection Authority had already launched proceedings against TikTok in December 2019. It criticizes it in particular for its “Lack of attention to the protection of minors, the ease of bypassing the registration ban for the little ones and the lack of transparency and clarity of the information given to users as well as the predefined settings that do not respect privacy “.
The death of the little Palermitaine sparked strong reactions in Italy, and calls for the regulation of social networks. “Networks cannot become a jungle where everything goes, including what the law prohibits in the real world”, said in particular the president of the parliamentary committee in charge of child protection, Licia Ronzulli.