- On Thursday, the United Kingdom announced plans to block Chinese video app TikTok on government devices.
- The British move follows similar rules in the United States and the European Union.
- Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden said the personal devices of government employees would not be covered by the ban.
The United Kingdom plans to ban TikTok on government phones, following similar steps in the United States and the European Union.
Dan Kitwood | Getty Images News | Getty Images
On Thursday, the United Kingdom announced plans to ban the use of Chinese-owned video app TikTok on devices of state companies.
“There clearly could be a risk around how sensitive government data is accessed and used by certain platforms,” said Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden, following a review by UK cyber security experts.
Dowden added that the apps collect massive amounts of data on users, including contacts and location. On government devices, this “data can be sensitive,” he said.
“The security of sensitive government information must come first, so today we are banning this app on government devices. The use of other data mining apps will remain under review,” the minister said in a statement. press release.
The TikTok ban begins immediately, according to Dowden, who noted the move was “precautionary.”
He emphasized that the ban would not include the personal devices of government employees. “This is a commensurate step based on specific risks with government agencies.”
Waivers for using TikTok on government devices are implemented when necessary for business purposes, but “will only be granted by security teams on a case-by-case basis, with ministerial clearance as appropriate, and with security mitigations in place,” the government said.
The minister also said that government agencies will only be able to access third-party apps that are on a pre-approved list.
The British move follows similar rules in the United States and the European Union. In late February, the White House gave government agencies 30 days to ensure that TikTok was not installed on federal machines. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, has also banned employees from installing TikTok on corporate and personal devices.
Lawmakers in Washington have repeatedly expressed concern that US user data from TikTok could be sent to China and accessed in the hands of the government in Beijing.
TikTok has, on several occasions, highlighted the work they do to protect user data in the US. The company unveiled “Project Texas” last year to “fully protect user data and US national security interests.”
TikTok said it is working with the US company Oracle to store all US data by default on the US company’s cloud, in a move to assuage Washington’s concerns.
Pressure is mounting globally on TikTok. The US Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has asked ByteDance to sell its shares in TikTok, or else the app could face a US ban. Any ban would choke TikTok from the huge US market.
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