French senators have called for an extended ban on the video-sharing app TikTok amid riots in the country that President Emmanuel Macron has said is being fueled by social media.
Expanding the ban: The proposal was among the list of 21 recommendations detailed in a 183-page report released by the Senate inquiry committee on Thursday.
The committee, which began examining various aspects of the platform in March, called for an expansion of the existing ban on TikTok for employees of vital operators. While the list of these operators remains confidential, it includes entities in the military, energy, finance, transport and water management sectors.
The French government enacted restrictions on social media apps, including TikTok, on government devices back in March.
The senators gave the platform until Jan. 1, 2024, to submit what data it has shared with the Chinese government so far. Failure to address inquiries about intellectual property, algorithms, shareholding, privacy guarantees, and content moderation could potentially lead to a national ban.
Potential vulnerabilities: Senator Claude Malhuret, the rapporteur for the report, emphasized that the technical, capital, political and legal dependencies of TikTok on China raise concerns about potential vulnerabilities and possible infringement on national interests.
The senators want TikTok to enhance its measures in combating disinformation and content generated by artificial intelligence. They also urged the company to provide additional assurances regarding the “Clover Project,” an initiative aimed at hosting European Union personal data within European territories.
Links to demonstrations: The report came a week after French President Emmanuel Macron said social media, especially TikTok and Snapchat, had a “considerable role” in encouraging violence during the current protests in the country and vowed to identify individuals who incite violence through social media platforms.
France has been grappling with widespread protests following the death of 17-year-old Nahel Merzouk, who was fatally shot by a police officer last month. The unrest has sparked nationwide demonstrations, leading to the detention of over 3,000 individuals by authorities and more than $1.1 billion in damages.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin and Minister Delegate for Digital Transition and Telecommunications Jean-Noel Barrot have since engaged in discussions with representatives from TikTok, Snapchat and Twitter to seek cooperation in identifying users involved in the protests.