Italy announced on Friday that it had temporarily blocked access to TikTok for users whose age is not guaranteed, an emergency measure taken after the death of a girl who participated in the “headscarf game” on the social network .
• Read also: 10-year-old girl dies of suffocation on TikTok
The Authority for the protection of personal data said in a press release “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”, 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, asphyxiated while taking part in a “headscarf game” challenge while filming herself with her phone. laptop 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 .
Antonella, 10, had locked herself in the bathroom of the family home on Wednesday to participate in a “blackout challenge” on TikTok, while checking in with 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.
The Palermo public 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 to experience strong sensations, each year causes accidents, some of which are fatal.
The parents told the daily La Repubblica that it was another sister of Antonella, aged nine, 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 this 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 could live because of her.”
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 president of the parliamentary committee responsible for child protection, Licia Ronzulli.