[ES] TikTok collaborates with the Spanish Data Protection Agency to control the dissemination of harmful content of social vulnerable groups

IRIS 2024-1:1/17

Azahara Cañedo & Marta Rodriguez Castro

The Spanish Data Protection Agency (AEPD) has incorporated TikTok into its Priority Channel, a communication channel established between the agency and Spanish citizens to report content (photographs or videos) published on social media that is of a sexual nature or that shows acts of aggression that put the rights and freedoms of the people affected at high risk. The legal basis for this channel is that one’s own image constitutes personal data and , under Spanish law, the AEPD has the power to adopt urgent measures to limit the publication of content that undermines the protection of personal data. As clarified by the agency, social media activity is generally excluded from the application of data protection law when it involves personal or domestic activities, so this channel may be used only in exceptional cases where the privacy of the person concerned is being put at serious risk.

In a context where content is increasingly being distributed online in an uncontrolled manner, and can be used as a tool for harassment, the AEPD and TikTok have agreed to cooperate jointly to promptly address citizens' complaints about the dissemination of content depicting women victims of gender-based violence, minors, and other vulnerable groups. This will allow the AEPD to work closely with the Chinese platform to remove videos quickly. Thus, TikTok joins other technological companies that already have this collaboration in place, such as Alphabet, Meta or Microsoft.

At the procedural level, the agency may call for the urgent removal of sensitive content, which usually takes place within 72 hours if the platform manager is located in Spain and the individuals whose privacy is affected are Spanish. In addition, accountability can also be determined through a sanctioning procedure, which is assessed subsequently on the basis of the specific facts submitted with the complaint. Since the launch of the Priority Channel, the AEPD has ordered the removal of 165 items of online content of a sexual or violent nature published without consent or that put the physical or mental health of the individuals concerned at serious risk. During the 2022-2023 biennium alone, the agency intervened in more than 80 cases.


This article has been published in IRIS Legal Observations of the European Audiovisual Observatory.