MILAN (Reuters) - Italy's data protection regulator said on Wednesday it had asked video-sharing app TikTok to strengthen measures to prevent young users from accessing the platform after the group removed more than 500,000 users under the age of 13 in almost three months.
Early in February TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, agreed with Italian authorities to block all users who gave their age as under 13, among other measures, after the death of a 10-year-old girl was blamed on a breath-holding social media challenge.
"The measures adopted have brought significant, but not yet sufficient, results," the regulator said in a statement.
The watchdog asked TikTok to cancel any accounts linked to users under 13 within 48 hours, make access by young users harder and launch communications initiatives explaining that the platform is not indicated for children under the age of 13.
It also asked the app to find solutions, including using artificial intelligence, that would minimise the risk of having youths under 13 entering and using TikTok's platform.
Since February then TikTok has asked more than 12.5 million users in Italy to confirm their age, the authority said, without explaining.
"Following ongoing talks with the regulator since the beginning of the year, we are piloting additional measures to ensure that only users who are at least 13 years old can use TikTok," Alexandra Evans, head of TikTok's Child Safety, Europe, said in a statement.
(Reporting by Elvira Pollina; writing by Cristina Carlevaro, Andrea Mandala; editing by Giulia Segreti, David Evans and Philippa Fletcher)