(Source: Euronews) – Chinese-owned social media app TikTok has been banned from government devices in the United Kingdom, it was announced on Thursday.
The ban is effective immediately and includes phones used by government ministers and civil servants, according to a statement given to the UK’s House of Commons by Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State in the Cabinet Office.
“This is a precautionary move. We know that there is already limited use of TikTok across government, but it is also good cyber hygiene,” the minister said in his address to MPs.
ByteDance, the company which owns TikTok, has been accused of handing users’ data to the Chinese government. The company has strongly denied this.
According to the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre review, “there could be a risk around how sensitive government data is accessed and used by certain platforms”.
Beyond the TikTok ban, devices across the government will now only be able to access third-party apps that are on a pre-approved list, according to Dowden.
“Our security must always come first, and today, we are strengthening that security in a prudent and proportionate way,” he said.
There will be very limited exemptions for the use of TikTok on government devices, and they will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
The use of TikTok on personal devices across the UK is still possible, although the minister recommended that individuals “practice caution online”.
“This approach aligns with action taken by allies,” Dowden said. The UK is the latest country to join a growing list of countries that have banned the platform, with Belgium, the United States, and the European Commission decided to do so in the past month.
“We are disappointed with this decision. We believe these bans have been based on fundamental misconceptions and driven by wider geopolitics, in which TikTok, and our millions of users in the UK, play no part,” a TikTok spokesperson said.
“We remain committed to working with the government to address any concerns but should be judged on facts and treated equally to our competitors.
“We have begun implementing a comprehensive plan to further protect our European user data, which includes storing UK user data in our European data centres and tightening data access controls, including third-party independent oversight of our approach”.