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TikTok halts ad policy change after criticism

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Social media giant TikTok said on Tuesday it had suspended a change to its data privacy policy in Europe after activists said it would breach EU law.

TikTok had announced it would change its policy from Wednesday to allow data to be gathered from over-18s in Europe whether or not they had consented, claiming the move was allowed under Europe’s data protection law (GDPR).

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But digital rights group Access Now wrote to the company last Tuesday asking for clarity on the legal basis, calling it a “clear abuse” of several European laws including GDPR.

TikTok did not publicly respond at the time but announced on Tuesday that it was now reviewing the planned update.

“While we address the various questions from our stakeholders regarding our proposed changes to our personalized ads in Europe, we are suspending the rollout of this part of our privacy policy update,” the firm said in a statement.

“This is exactly what @accessnow asked TikTok to do last week,” Estelle Masse of Access Now wrote on Twitter.

She thanked Irish, Italian and Spanish data protection authorities after they had reportedly begun to take action on the issue.

Social media firms gather vast troves of data on individuals’ online habits and use it to sell highly targeted advertising.

But the GDPR forces firms to give detailed justifications for gathering data, something social media platforms have struggled to do.

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