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Italy tells TikTok to block users after death of 10-year-old girl in 'blackout challenge'

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ROME (REUTERS) – The Italian data privacy watchdog ordered video app TikTok on Friday (Jan 22) to block the accounts of any users in Italy whose age it could not verify following death of 10-year-old girl who had been using the Chinese-owned app.

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.

There was no immediate response from TikTok, which is owned by China’s ByteDance.

The ruling came after a girl died of asphyxiation in Palermo, Sicily.

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

“The watchdog decided to intervene as a matter of urgency following the terrible case of the 10-year-old girl from Palermo,” the authority said.

It said TikTok was banned from “further processing user data for which there is no absolute certainty of age and, consequently, of compliance with the provisions related to the age requirement”.

An official said this meant unverified accounts would be blocked and users would no longer be able to upload videos.