TikTok ban for UK ministers
The government should ban ministers and civil servants from using the Chinese social media app TikTok on their work phones.
The video app “has come under increasing scrutiny for its security and data privacy,” according to The Telegraph, and Parliament’s own TikTok account was shut down last August after MPs raised concerns about the app’s links to Beijing. Cabinet Minister Oliver Dowden confirmed the ban in a statement in the House of Commons today.
“Until recently, the UK has been cool with TikTok,” writes The Guardian. But after an initial review by a cabinet committee, experts from the GCHQ National Cyber Security Center “evaluated the app and identified risks to sensitive information,” according to The Sunday Times.
TikTok “has long claimed” it does not store user data in China, but Beijing laws require firms, including tech companies, to help the Communist Party and its think tanks “when asked to do so,” the newspaper wrote. Western security agencies have warned that “this could lead to the disclosure of huge amounts of data” around the world.
Rishi Sunak hinted at the ban on Monday. Asked whether TikTok should be banned from government devices, the prime minister said Westminster is “watching what our allies are doing. And we are in the process of all this.”
US federal agency employees have been ordered to remove the app from government devices, while Belgium, the Netherlands and the European Commission have banned all official devices.
TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, has tried to allay the fears, according to The Guardian.
Last week, it outlined a European security agreement dubbed Project Clover, under which European users’ data would be stored on servers in Ireland and Norway, and any external transfers would be “verified by a third-party IT company.” A similar scheme involving Oracle is being considered in the US.