The Italian data privacy watchdog ordered video app TikTok on Friday, January 22 to block the accounts of any users in Italy whose age it could not verify following the death of a 10-year-old girl who had been using the Chinese-owned app, Reuters reports.
Owned by China’s ByteDance, TikTok has been rapidly growing in popularity around the world, particularly among teenagers. The ruling came after a girl died of asphyxiation in Palermo, Sicily, in a case that has shocked Italy. Her parents said she had been participating in a so-called blackout challenge on TikTok, putting a belt around her neck and holding her breath while recording herself on her phone.
In a statement, the regulator said that although TikTok had committed to ban registration for children aged under 13, it was nonetheless easy to circumvent this rule.
As a result, it said TikTok had to block unverified user accounts until at least Feb. 15 awaiting further information.
A spokeswoman for TikTok in Italy said the company was analyzing the communication received from the authority.
“Privacy and safety are absolute priorities for TikTok and we are constantly working to strengthen our policies, our processes and our technologies to protect our community and younger users in particular,” she said in an emailed comment.