TikTok France is about to go on the grill of the Senate

By Chloe Woitier

Posted , Update

In three months, the commission of inquiry carried out nearly twenty public hearings of experts and regulators. KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP

Its management will be questioned under oath by the commission of inquiry dedicated to the application.

Three months after the start of its work, the Senate inquiry committee on the use of TikTokits use of data and its influence strategy» is preparing to audition this Thursday the French management of the application: Éric Garandeau, director of public affairs, then Marlène Masure, director of operations France, Benelux and Southern Europe, will be successively questioned for more than two hours by a dozen elected.

The senators seek to shed light on TikTok’s links with China, whether it is the degree of independence with the central power or the transfer of personal data to this country, on the presence of operations of influence and misinformation, and on the dangers presented by the application vis-à-vis children and adolescents. Is TikTok more of a concern than an Instagram or a YouTube, and if so how?

Twenty public hearings

The hearing of the management of TikTok France promises to be the culmination of a parliamentary inquiry which is due to publish its conclusions and recommendations in early July. “The further we go, the more I am marked by the opacity of TikTok”indicates to Figaro Senator Marie Mercier (Les Républicains). “We expect a lot from the hearings in order to better understand the ramifications of this company”, adds Senator Catherine Morin-Desailly (Centrist Union). The latter was appointed president of the special commission on the digital bill of Minister Jean-Noël Barrot, which also includes other members of the TikTok commission of inquiry. “This is a good thing, because it will allow us to further support the work of the special commission on securing the digital space. This coincidence is interesting.underlines the senator.

Read also“My brain “swipes””: the TikTok generation facing the pitfalls of social networks

Only French citizens are obliged to answer, under oath, the questions of a parliamentary commission of inquiry. This explains why, despite requests from senators, no leader of TikTok Europe or the world or of the parent company ByteDance has been questioned to date. However, the commission has the power to requisition documents from companies domiciled in France, which it exercised with regard to the local subsidiary of TikTok. The latter also received a questionnaire, as did all the actors interviewed.

In three months, the commission of inquiry carried out nearly twenty public hearings of experts and regulators. Louis Dutheillet de Lamothe, secretary general of the Cnil, Benoît Loutrel, member of Arcom, Nicolas Lerner, director general of the DGSI, clinical psychologists Milan Hung and Sabine Duflo, artificial intelligence researcher Marc Faddoul, researcher in the geopolitics of technologies Julien Nocetti… To these public hearings was added a whole series of confidential interviews.

Read also“They know it’s a Chinese algorithm that controls their destiny”: on TikTok, influencers between glory and anguish

At the end of March, the director of TikTok, Chew Zi Shou, had been auditioned for nearly five hours by American elected officials. But nothing had come out of this particularly electric session. Another investigation, conducted by the Irish personal data protection authority, should provide answers on the transfer of European data to China. The findings could be published this summer.

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