The agency asks the social network to create mechanisms to identify users under 18 years of age and adopt specific precautions for this group, which is protected by the ECA (Child and Adolescent Statute).
The technical note was produced in August, but was only made public this Tuesday (19). According to the ANPD, the application presented an impact report on children and adolescents. The agency will now analyze the document and decide whether the adjustments are enough to maintain the service in Brazil.
The decision to prevent a social network from working with third-party data would be unprecedented in the country. The ANPD also investigates Telegram and WhatsApp on the same issue.
In detailing the technical note, the agency requested that TikTok review age verification mechanisms to prevent children under 13 from creating accounts on the platform. He also asked the network to explain the differences between the processing of data from adults and adolescents (13 to 17 years old), as the latter group is protected by the ECA and the LGPD (General Data Protection Law).
The application went through a similar procedure in the European Union and, six days ago, it ended up being fined US$368 million (R$1.8 billion) by the European regulatory body.
Wanted by Sheet, ByteDance, the company responsible for the application, claims to use standards adopted across the industry to prevent users under this age from accessing content. “The technical note in question is still under discussion and we have had positive conversations with the ANPD.”
In Brazil, data from children (people aged 12 or under, according to local legislation) can be processed with parental authorization, as long as special protections for this group are respected, according to lawyer Caio Lima, partner at the firm specializing in innovation VLK Advogados.
In the statement to TikTok, the ANPD reinforces that the LGPD applies to any data processing in national territory, even if the responsible company is based outside the country, as is the case with TikTok.
The LGPD mentions, in its article 52, the suspension of data processing, for up to 6 months, extendable for the same period, as a possibility of sanction. The suspension may be partial, focusing on the area of infraction — in this case, referring to minors under 18 years of age.
Proving the age of people registered on social networks is a challenge, since access to official documents with photos is a request considered invasive. The storage of sensitive data still requires additional care.
The research on the use of the internet by children and adolescents in Brazil TIC Kids Online Brasil, developed by NIC.br (an entity linked to the government that gathers data on internet use and access), indicates not only that TikTok is used by children, as it is also the preferred social network in this age group.
In the 2021 edition, published in November, 58% of people between 9 and 17 years old in Brazil said they had a TikTok account, and 34% said that this was the most used social network. Still in this survey, 39% of children aged 9 and 10 and 48% of children aged 11 and 12 stated that TikTok was the most used social network.
In the most recent data from TIC Kids Online Brasil 2022, published this year, these numbers rose: 60% of people between 9 and 17 years old in Brazil said they had an account on TikTok, and 35% said that this was the most used social network.
Lima says there are ways to make it more difficult for children to register, such as requesting a telephone number instead of an email, which anyone can create on the internet.
The impact report requested from TikTok’s owner, ByteDance, would have to detail the platform’s risks to minors and clarify the purposes of data processing for this group. The document is already in the hands of ANPD agents, but has restricted access to the public.
In any situation, the best interests of the child must prevail, says the agency’s guidance on information from minors.
People with knowledge of the matter say that the company also presented the algorithms used on the platform to process user data in the impact report, as the Brazilian authority also requested.
On Friday (15), the European data processing authority imposed a sanction on TikTok, for practices that put minors at risk between July 31, 2020 and December 31, 2020.
Children under 13 were not only able to access platforms without permission, but they also had public accounts by default — this allows anyone to view and comment on the user’s videos.
The case reinforces technical difficulties for platforms in controlling minors’ access to social networks.