UK bans TikTok from government phones

Following similar moves by Belgium, the EU, Canada and the US, the UK became the latest to ban Chinese social media app TikTok on government devices on Thursday.

This also comes after TikTok said it faces a blanket ban in the US unless the company’s Beijing-based parent company ByteDance sells its stake.

The Principality of Lancaster, Oliver Dowden, who announced the ban in parliament, said the decision was based on an official review and said there were “risks about how sensitive government data could be accessed and used by certain platforms.” It is clear that there may be

“Social media apps collect and store huge amounts of user data, including contacts, user content and location data. That data can be sensitive on government devices,” the minister said. Told.

The TikTok ban applies to government corporate devices within ministries and non-ministries, but not to personal devices.

A “very limited exemption” could be granted on a case-by-case basis by the security team on a case-by-case basis if required for operational reasons, with ministerial approval, he added.

Access to third-party apps is also limited to a list of pre-approved apps. Dowden said the measures are already in use in some departments and will be rolled out to all government departments, agencies and independent organizations.

Epoch Times photo
Cabinet Office Minister Oliver Dowden announced a ban on TikTok on government devices in the House of Commons in London on March 16, 2023. (PA via House)

Asked about a decentralized government, Dowden replied to opposition deputy leader Angela Rayner that he had written to Scottish and Welsh leaders and “appropriate officials in Northern Ireland” on the matter.

He also said it is updating its guidance on out-of-company communications to ensure a consistent approach across government.

Former Conservative Party leader Ian Duncan-Smith, co-founder of the Inter-Parliamentary Union on China, has called on the government to go further and ban cabinet members and senior officials from using TikTok on their personal devices. business.

Dowden defended the government’s approach, saying it was a balanced “right approach”.

“It is a fact that many social media apps collect vast amounts of data, and sophisticated foreign adversarial state actors use a number of mechanisms to collect large amounts of data apart from direct ownership. It is also true that we can get . So overall I believe this is the right approach,” he said.

The Epoch Times reached out to TikTok and ByteDance for comment.

Other prohibitions

The Epoch Times previously revealed that ByteDance employed a member of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) at its highest rank. The company, like many organizations in China, is also bound by the regime’s National Intelligence Law. The law requires all organizations and citizens to “help, assist and cooperate in national intelligence efforts.”

TikTok says users’ personal data collected by the app can be accessed remotely in China, but denies that it has provided the data to the CCP and does not plan to do so. This promise did little to assure security experts who warned against trusting the Chinese regime.

Arthur Herman, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, a US think tank, previously told the Epoch Times that the app collects vast amounts of data and, in the case of the US, asks, “Where are the US vulnerabilities?” It says it can be used to understand Its algorithms can also turn apps into “brainwashed apps” by filtering out content that the CCP dislikes.

Due to security concerns, more and more jurisdictions are banning the use of apps on official devices.

India banned TikTok and dozens of other Chinese apps in June 2020, while Taiwan banned TikTok and several other Chinese apps on state-owned devices, and in December 2022, on the island. has launched an investigation into a social media app for alleged illegal operations.

Earlier this month, the White House ordered the TikTok app to be removed from all government devices and systems within 30 days, following similar moves in some US states.

EU bodies such as the European Commission, the European Union Council and the European Parliament banned officials from using TikTok on government and personal phones earlier this month.

Canada and Belgium are also among the governments that have recently banned apps.