The Italian data privacy watchdog ordered the video app TikTok on Friday to block the accounts of any users in Italy whose age could not be verified after the death of a 10-year-old girl using a Chinese-owned app.

The regulator said in a statement that although TikTok promised to prohibit registration of children under 13 years old, it is still easy to bypass this rule.

As a result, it said TikTok must block unauthenticated user accounts until at least February 15 to wait for further information.

TikTok did not immediately respond. TikTok is a subsidiary of ByteDance in China, and it has become popular all over the world, especially among teenagers.

The ruling occurred after a girl in Palermo, Sicily, died of asphyxiation. The case shocked Italy.

Her parents said that she had been participating in a so-called blackout challenge on TikTok, wearing a seat belt around her neck, holding her breath, and recording herself on her mobile phone.

The prosecutor has begun investigating possible suicide incitement and is investigating whether she was invited to the challenge.

Authorities said: “After the tragedy of a 10-year-old girl from Palermo, the watchdog decided to intervene urgently.”

It said that TikTok was prohibited from “further processing user data without absolute age determination, and therefore cannot comply with regulations related to age requirements.”

An official said this means that users who have not verified their accounts will no longer be able to upload videos or interact with others on the platform.

The regulator said it filed a series of alleged violations with TikTok in December, including allegations that the company failed to protect minors.

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It added that it has informed the Irish authorities of its decision because TikTok has announced that it will conduct European operations outside of Dublin.

Thomson Reuters 2021 ©

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