The Italian Data Protection Authority, the country’s data privacy watchdog, has ordered TikTok to block the accounts of any users who it cannot verify to be at least 13 years old — the minimum age to enlist on the platform.
The order arrives after a 10-year-old Palermo girl tragically died of asphyxiation while reportedly partaking in a TikTok trend known as the ‘blackout challenge’, Reuters reports, in which users tie a belt around their necks in an attempt to pass out while filming themselves.
While TikTok ostensibly prohibits registration for children under the age of 13, Italy’s watchdog noted that it remains simple for young children to sign up for the service. Thus, it has ordered TikTok to block any users whose ages it cannot verify until at least Feb. 15. These accounts will not be able to upload videos or otherwise interact on the app.
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This isn’t the first time that the agency has raised concerns with TikTok, as Reuters notes that that the watchdog alleged in December that TikTok had failed to protect minors amid a series of unknown violations.
Prosecutors have also opened an investigation into incitement of suicide with respect to the young Palermo girl, to ascertain whether she was urged to partake in the fatal challenge. ANSA reports that the she arrived at the hospital in cardiac arrest and was declared braindead, whereupon her parents consented to organ donation.