UK bans TikTok on government devices

UK bans TikTok on government devices

UK bans TikTok on government devices

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Britain on Thursday became the latest Western country to ban the use of TikTok on “government devices”, citing security fears over ownership of the video-sharing app by a Chinese company.


Speaking in parliament, Oliver Dowden, a senior cabinet minister, announced the ban with immediate effect, calling it a “precaution”, even though the United States, the executive arm of the European Union, Canada and India had already taken similar steps. New Zealand did it on Friday.

Social media apps collect and store “huge amounts of user data, including contacts, user content and geolocation data on government devices that may be sensitive,” Dowden said. but TikTok has aroused more suspicion than most because of its owner, the Chinese. ByteDance company.

Britain’s actions reflect fears expressed in various Western governments that TikTok could share sensitive data from devices used by politicians and senior officials with the government in Beijing.

The ban announced on Thursday follows a toughening of politics in Britain. On Monday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak described China as a “historic challenge” to the international order.

The new instruction only applies to official work phones of government officials, and it was described by Mr Dowden as a proportionate approach to addressing a potential vulnerability in government data.

TikTok has long insisted on not passing information to the Chinese government. In a statement on Thursday, TikTok said it was disappointed with the UK government’s decision, saying the bans imposed on it were “based on fundamental misconceptions and driven by broader geopolitics”. It added that it was taking steps to protect UK user data.

In the United States, the White House told federal agencies on February 27 that they had 30 days to remove the app from government devices. More than two dozen states have banned TikTok on government-issued devices, and a significant number of universities have blocked it on campus Wi-Fi networks. The app was banned for three years on US government devices used by the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard.

On Wednesday, TikTok said the Biden administration was toughening its stance on addressing national security concerns, telling the company it should sell the app or face a possible ban.

Several UK government departments have TikTok accounts as part of their public outreach, including the country’s Ministry of Defence, and just a day ago, Michelle Donelan, Secretary of State for Science, to innovation and technology, said the app was safe for Brits. to use.

“As far as the general public is concerned, it’s absolutely a personal choice, but because we have the strictest data protection laws in the world, we are confident that the public can continue to use it,” a- she told lawmakers in parliament.

China featured prominently in an updated security review published by the government, although Mr Sunak’s tough language did not satisfy all the hawks in his conservative party, including one of his former leaders, Iain Duncan Smith.

Mr Duncan Smith questioned whether the UK government officially views China as a threat, and on Thursday, while welcoming the action against TikTok, he called for the ban to be extended to private devices owned by government officials.

This followed China’s decision in December to withdraw six of its diplomats from Britain, after a diplomatic standoff between London and Beijing following a violent clash at a pro-democracy protest at the Chinese consulate in the city of Manchester, in the north of the country.

British authorities had asked six Chinese diplomats to waive their official immunity to allow police to investigate how a Hong Kong protester was injured after being dragged onto consulate grounds and beaten on October 16.

Instead, China decided to repatriate the six officials, including one of its top diplomats, the consul general, Zheng Xiyuan, who had denied beating a protester, without denying his involvement in the incident.

Adam Satarian And Natasha Frost contributed report.


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