(Bloomberg) -- The Dutch government asked ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok to allow researchers access to the functioning of the social media platform in a bid to protect users online.
Dutch Minister for Digitalization Alexandra van Huffelen made the request at a meeting with TikTok Chief Executive Officer Shou Zi Chew in Singapore, she said in a tweet on Thursday. Dutch researchers will use the access to analyze how TikTok’s algorithm functions, the minister’s spokesman, Thomas van Oortmerssen, said by phone.
The request comes as the European Commission prepares to tighten scrutiny over 19 tech companies, including TikTok, that it designated on a list of “very large online platforms” under the bloc’s Digital Services Act. The legislation, which applies to institutions with at least 45 million monthly active users, will enter into force on August 25 and aims to protect users online, including minors, by requiring robust content moderation tools and transparency.
Van Huffelen, who called TikTok “extremely addictive” in remarks to RTL News last year, also raised concerns about children’s rights with Chew on Thursday.
TikTok has drawn regulatory scrutiny from the US and the EU over possible security threats posed by the Chinese-owned social media platform. The app has also come under fire for threatening the wellbeing of children through its viral challenges and because its algorithm can encourage addictive behavior among teenagers.
A TikTok spokesperson said that the company started last year to release its application programming interface, which can be used by third parties to gather data on how people use social media. The company is working on a wider rollout, including for EU researchers, to ensure it meets the bloc’s privacy regulations, the spokesperson said.
The Christian Union party, a member of the Dutch ruling coalition, has previously called for a ban on children using TikTok. The Netherlands has also asked government officials to stop using TikTok on their work mobile devices due to security concerns.
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