UK bans TikTok on government devices over national security concerns

The United Kingdom has become the latest country to ban Chinese short-form video app TikTok from being used on government devices over national security concerns.

‘’The security of sensitive government information must come first, so today we are banning this app on government devices,’’ said Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Oliver Dowden, in a statement. ‘’The use of other data-extracting apps will be kept under review.’’

‘’Restricting the use of TikTok on Government devices is a prudent and proportionate step following advice from our cyber security experts,’’ Dowden added.

The ban was imposed following a security review ordered by the Cabinet Office Ministers, which looked into ‘’the potential vulnerability of government data from social media apps on devices and risks around how sensitive information could be accessed and used by some platforms.’’

The ByteDance-owned platform has been facing scrutiny over worries that it could hand personal data to the Chinese government, something it has long opposed but led to similar bans by the governments of the United States, Canada, Belgium, Germany, and the European Commission.

Following the announcement, a spokesperson for TikTok said: “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. We remain committed to working with the government to address any concerns but should be judged on facts and treated equally to our competitors.

The company recently announced that it would open three new data centres in Europe to help address national security concerns, as part of its new initiative called ‘’Project Clover’’.

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,” the spokesperson said on Thursday.

The new ban will not affect government employees using TikTok on their personal devices, and ‘’specific exemptions for the use of TikTok on government devices are being put in place where required for work purposes,’’ the Cabinet Office said.

Earlier this month, the White House endorsed a Senate bill that could lead to a nationwide TikTok ban in the United States. According to sources familiar with the matter, the company’s considering splitting from ByteDance to avoid the potential ban, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday. 

Written by Sophie Blake


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