TikTok Banned By UK On Govt Phones On Security Grounds

The British government on Thursday banned Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok on government phones on security grounds, reported Associated Press (AP). The ban follows a series of similar moves by other western countries including the US, Canada, and the EU.

It was previously reported that the UK government is set to announce the ban after the country’s National Cyber Security Centre has been reviewing whether TikTok should be barred from government phones.

On Thursday, UK government’s Cabinet Office Minister Oliver Dowden told MPs the app would be banned on security grounds with immediate effect. 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-extracting apps will be kept under review,”

But he told MPs the ban would not extend to ministers’ or civil servants’ personal phones, or the general public. Dowden said that, following a review by Britain’s cybersecurity experts, it is “clear that there could be a risk around how sensitive government data is accessed and used by certain platforms.”

In a press statement, UK’s Cabinet Office said, “The ban comes after Cabinet Office Ministers ordered a security review. This looked at the potential vulnerability of government data from social media apps on devices and risks around how sensitive information could be accessed and used by some platforms. Given the potentially sensitive nature of information which is stored on government devices, government policy on the management of third party applications will be strengthened and a precautionary ban on TikTok on government devices is being introduced.”

“TikTok requires users to give permission for the app to access data stored on the device, which is then collected and stored by the company. Allowing such permissions gives the company access to a range of data on the device, including contacts, user content, and geolocation data. The government, along with our international partners, is concerned about the way in which this data may be used,” the statement said. 

It comes under the backdrop of TikTok coming under global scrutiny over the safety of personal user data. Other countries such as the United States, Canada, Belgium, and the European Commission have already banned the app on government-issued devices.

Additionally, the US has threatened to impose a ban on TikTok unless its Chinese owners, ByteDance, divest their stakes in it. The move, driven by fears that user data of the US held by the company could be passed on to the Chinese government, comes amid a global backlash against the social media platform over the concerns of potential Chinese spying. 

ALSO READ: TikTok Denies Reports On US Call For Chinese Owners To Sell Stakes

Although the US has already banned TikTok on government devices, this is for the first time under the Biden administration that the ban on the app has come under threat. A TikTok spokesperson, however, responded by saying that such action would not be beneficial to national security. TikTok spokesperson Maureen Shanahan stated that “divestment doesn’t solve the problem: a change in ownership would not impose any new restrictions on data flows or access.”

Last month, the European Commission (EU) banned TikTok on official devices used by staff amid concerns over data protection. The ban means that EU Commission staff cannot use the app on personal devices, including phones, that have official apps installed.

Also Read: TikTok Denies Reports On US Call For Chinese Owners To Sell Stakes

Canada has also banned the popular short-form video platform owned by China-based ByteDance. The use of TikTok has been strictly prohibited on government-issued devices due to concerns over security and privacy risks, owing to its China connection. 

Back in 2020, TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps were banned completely in India (private and government usage), as they were deemed “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.”

This move was in response to a military clash between India and China in the disputed territory along the Ladakh-China border. Other popular Chinese apps such as Weibo and UC Browser were also banned in the process. 

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.