UK lawmakers to remove TikTok app to protect personal data

TikTok should be removed from smartphones to protect personal data from “hostile” threats, says a senior UK Conservative MP.

Since TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, was founded in China, there have long been concerns about TikTok’s ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), with critics expressing concerns that data could be passed to the Chinese government. increase.

Alicia Kearns, a Conservative MP who chairs the House Foreign Relations Committee, said on Sky’s “Sophy Ridge On Sunday” that the video-sharing platform is part of the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to build a “technology totalitarian state.” said to be related to

Epoch Times photo
Conservative MP Alicia Kearns, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, addresses a debate on the Procurement Bill in Parliament, Westminster, London, 9 January 2023. (Screenshot via Epoch Times)

When asked if he advised people to remove TikTok from their phones, Kearns said: My phone doesn’t have it, but it’s interesting how often you talk to people.

“Your phone is not worth having such vulnerabilities and is the ultimate data source for anyone in a hostile effort.

“Actually, this isn’t just me saying, ‘I’m worried, please delete it.’ There is evidence that TikTok was used to track the sources of journalists. Everyone should worry about it. ”

“We are naive”

In a December 2022 letter to Kearns, TikTok Director of Government Relations Elizabeth Cantor confirmed that some ByteDance staff in China may have access to personal data of UK users, It added that access was “restricted” and “subject to strict security controls and authorization approval protocols.” It is overseen by the company’s US-based security team.

Kanter said TikTok is a “global company with a global leadership team” and is separate from ByteDance’s China-based subsidiary, Douyin, and Douyin employees do not have access to the personal data of TikTok UK users. said.

She also said the company has not been asked by the Chinese Communist Party for user data on TikTok UK, has not provided such data, and “would not do so even if asked.”

Kearns, however, rejected TikTok’s claims.

She told Sky News: TikTok has provided evidence to my panel that it said there was no way for individuals working in China to access data of British people. But what we’re seeing now is that people working in China for TikTok hacked European data so they could trace journalists’ sources.

“Because what TikTok does is give you the data that makes you most vulnerable. Who are you friends with? What are your interests; What are you interested in Who you have a private conversation with Where you go There’s a reason China has this app Why they’re hoarding gay dating apps there is.”

The Conservative MP added: That’s why we need to get more serious about protecting ourselves. ”

Hours after the US shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon, Kearns said: , how they are threatening people who have sought refuge in the UK and around the world.

Internal CCP Committee

British Security Minister Tom Tugenhut said on Dec. 13 that the Chinese government “has considerable influence over algorithms” and warned the app was a powerful tool for spreading false narratives. bottom.

Megan Prangley, a China expert at the Henry Jackson Society, told The Epoch Times that ByteDance “has an internal CCP committee” that allows China-based employees to access and streamline data. He said he didn’t believe TikTok’s claims because it was “very likely.” to the government.

She also referred to China’s National Intelligence Law, which requires all organizations and citizens to “support, assist and cooperate in national intelligence efforts.”

“This is exactly where you can’t trust the Chinese government,” said Prangley, adding that employees “could be coerced into sharing specific information that is required at the time.”

A TikTok spokesperson said:

“Starting this year, we have taken steps such as storing UK user data in our Irish data center operations. Further reducing access to employee data. Minimizing data flows outside of Europe.

“We have written to Ms Kearns many times to ensure that she has all the facts and information available and we look forward to engaging constructively with her on these important issues in the near future. .”

Lily Zhou and PA Media contributed to this report.