Italy announced on Friday that it had temporarily blocked access to TikTok to users whose age is not guaranteed, a measure taken urgently after the death of a girl who participated in the “headscarf game” on the social network .
The Personal Data Protection Authority said in a statement to “block the Chinese social network” with immediate effect and until February 15, when it must have responded to its injunctions.
Until then, it is prohibited from using “the data of users whose age has not been established with absolute security,” the independent authority said. This should in principle make it impossible to create an account if a user does not provide proof of his age.
According to AFP, this decision comes a few hours after the announcement of the death in Palermo, in Sicily (south), of a 10-year-old girl, asphyxiated while taking part in a challenge to the “headscarf game” in filming himself with his cell phone on TikTok.
However, its registration on the network, very popular among adolescents, “has not been refused by the company” despite its young age, “less than the 13 years minimum provided by the platform”, underlines the Data Protection Authority .
Read also: TikTok unveils the top 100 most viral videos in 2020
Antonella, 10, locked herself in the bathroom of the family home on Wednesday to participate in a “blackout challenge” on TikTok, while checking in on her cell phone.
It was her five-year-old sister who discovered her unconscious body. Taken immediately to the Palermo Children’s Hospital by her parents, she did not survive.
– “Incitement to suicide” –
The Palermo prosecutor’s office said it had opened an investigation for “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 “headscarf game,” in which children block their breathing until they pass out for a thrill, causes accidents each year, some of which are fatal.
The parents told La Repubblica that it was another nine-year-old sister of Antonella who explained to them what had happened: “Antonella was playing the game of asphyxiation.”
“We didn’t know,” the girl’s father told 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 is dying from extreme gambling on TikTok: how can I accept it? Angelo Sicomero added. Parents donated her organs so “other children could live on her.”
Read also: TikTok becomes the most downloaded application
In reaction to this tragedy, the platform launched in 2016, which claims 100 million users in Europe, issued a statement: “The safety of the TikTok community is our top priority, we are at the disposal of the competent authorities to collaborate on their investigation ”.
The Italian Data Protection Authority had already launched a case against TikTok in December 2019.
She criticizes it in particular for its “lack of attention to the protection of minors, the ease of getting around the ban on registering for the little ones and the lack of transparency and clarity of the information given to users as well as the non-predefined settings. respectful of privacy ”.
The death of little Palermitan woman has sparked strong reactions in Italy, and calls for the regulation of social networks.
“Networks cannot become a jungle where everything is allowed, including what the law prohibits in the real world,” said the chair of the parliamentary committee responsible for child protection, Licia Ronzulli.
Find all Tech and New Media news in Africa on Socialnetlink.