- The United Kingdom on Thursday announced plans to ban Chinese video app TikTok on government devices.
- Britain’s decision follows similar rules in the United States and the European Union.
- Cabinet Minister Oliver Dowden said the ban would not extend to the personal devices of government employees.
The UK plans to ban TikTok on government phones following similar moves in the US and European Union.
Dan Kitwood | Getty Images News | Getty Images
LONDON — The United Kingdom on Thursday announced plans to ban the use of Chinese video app TikTok on government company devices.
Cabinet Minister Oliver Dowden said that following a review by UK cybersecurity experts, it is “clear there could be a risk to how sensitive government data is accessed and used by some platforms”.
Dowden added that the apps collect massive amounts of user data, including contacts and location. On government devices, this “data may be sensitive,” he said.
“Security of sensitive government information must come first, which is why we are banning this app from government devices today. Use of other data-mining apps will be monitored,” the minister said in a statement. A press release.
The TikTok ban begins with immediate effect, according to Dowden, who noted the decision was “precautionary.”
He confirmed that the ban would not extend to the personal devices of government employees. “This is a proportionate move based on specific risk with government apparatuses.”
Exemptions for the use of TikTok on government devices are being implemented where necessary for business purposes, but “will only be granted by security teams on a case-by-case basis, with ministerial authorization where appropriate, and with security mitigation measures in place,” the government said.
The minister also said government devices will only be able to access third-party apps on a pre-approved list.
Britain’s decision follows similar rules in the United States and the European Union. In late February, the White House gave government agencies 30 days to ensure TikTok was not installed on federal devices. The European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, has also banned employees from installing TikTok on work and personal devices.
Washington lawmakers have repeatedly expressed concern that US TikTok user data could be sent to China and fall into the hands of the Beijing government.
TikTok has repeatedly highlighted the work they do to protect US user data. The company unveiled “Project Texas” last year to “fully protect user data and the national security interests of the United States.”
TikTok said it was working with US company Oracle to store all US data by default on the US company’s cloud, in a bid to allay fears in Washington.
The pressure is mounting globally on TikTok. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has asked ByteDance to sell its shares in TikTok or the app could face a US ban. Any ban would choke TikTok from the huge US market.