UK Government bans TikTok on official devices due to security concerns
The UK government has announced a ban on the popular social media app TikTok on all official government devices.
The decision follows a security review ordered by Cabinet Office Ministers, which examined potential vulnerabilities of government data on social media apps and the risks associated with platforms accessing sensitive information.
TikTok, the popular video-sharing app owned by Chinese tech giant ByteDance, has faced increasing scrutiny over its potential to promote pro-Beijing views or gather user data.
The app has already been banned on government networks in the US, Canada, and the European Union due to similar concerns.
The ban on TikTok follows similar moves by the US, Canada, and the EU, with the app being labelled as “high risk due to a number of security issues” by the US House’s Chief Administrative Officer in December.
TikTok has consistently maintained that it does not share data with the Chinese government, despite Chinese intelligence legislation requiring companies to assist the Communist Party when requested.
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Oliver Dowden, emphasised the importance of protecting sensitive government information, stating that the use of other data-extracting apps will remain under review.
He added that the decision to restrict TikTok is a prudent and proportionate step following advice from cybersecurity experts.
TikTok requires users to grant permission for the app to access data stored on their devices, which is then collected and stored by the company.
This data includes contacts, user content, and geolocation information.
The UK government, along with its international partners, has expressed concern about how this data may be used.
The ban does not extend to personal devices used by government employees, ministers, or the general public.
However, individuals are encouraged to be aware of each social media platform’s data policies when deciding to download and use them.
Specific exemptions for using TikTok on government devices will be available for work purposes, granted by security teams on a case-by-case basis, with ministerial clearance as appropriate, and with security mitigations put in place. Exemptions may cover individuals working in relevant enforcement roles or those involved in work on online harms.
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