Italian authority: TikTok’s advertising policy violates EU privacy law

Italian privacy authority GPDP says TikTok is violating European privacy guidelines by requiring personalized ads. The GPDP has warned TikTok and has launched an investigation into the video app.

TikTok has been requiring users to see personalized ads since last year. The users are shown ads based on the videos they watch in the app. Previously there was still the option to turn that off. However, it is still possible to choose not to include data from other parties when personalizing the advertisements.

According to the GPDP TikTok violates European and Italian data protection laws with this decision. Both laws state that it is “unlawful to use personal data stored on users’ devices to profile them and send them personalized advertising without their express consent,” according to the GPDP.

The regulator also calls the advertising policy “particularly concerning with regard to the protection of minors registered on the platform”. After all, TikTok cannot rule out the possibility that the content of the personalized advertisements is ‘unsuitable’ for younger users, the GPDP says.

The privacy authority has now launched an investigation into the mandatory personalized advertisements on TikTok. It has also given the app a ‘formal warning’. If TikTok does not heed the warning and does not change its advertising policy, the GPDP will not rule out “taking additional measures”. TikTok has not yet responded to the warning.