European Parliament to ban TikTok from staff phones: EU official

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The TikTok logo is displayed outside a TikTok office in Culver City, California, the United States [Mario Tama/Getty Images via AFP]

The move comes a day after the US White House gave federal agencies 30 days to wipe TikTok off all government devices.

The European Parliament has decided to ban Chinese short video-sharing app TikTok from staff phones for security reasons, becoming the latest EU institution to do so after the European Commission and the European Council.

The planned ban will also apply to private devices with Parliament email and other network access installed on them, an EU official said on Tuesday, adding that the decision is expected to be announced soon.

Last week, the European Council, the main legislative branch of the EU, and the executive body European Commission banned their staff from installing TikTok on devices used for work amid concerns over data protection.

TikTok, whose parent company ByteDance is based in China, has faced increasing scrutiny by Western countries in recent months over fears about how much access Beijing has to user data.

Denmark’s parliament also announced on Tuesday that it had asked MPs and all staff to remove the video-sharing platform from mobile devices because of the “risk of spying”.

US takes ‘critical step’

The moves by the European Parliament and Danish Parliament come a day after the White House gave all federal agencies 30 days to wipe TikTok off all US government devices.

The US Office of Management and Budget called the announced guidance a “critical step forward in addressing the risks presented by the app to sensitive government data”.

Some US agencies, including the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and State, already have restrictions in place and the White House does not allow TikTok on its devices. The US guidance called on the rest of the federal government to follow suit within 30 days.

Al Jazeera’s Rosiland Jordan, reporting from Washington, DC, said that there had been long-standing worries in the US capital about the use of TikTok and whether it is utilised to spy on the country.

She said that the negotiations over how to regulate TikTok for the US public continued among American politicians.

“Both Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill are very concerned that the longer this goes on, the more vulnerable the US users will be to any efforts to take their personal data,” Jordan said.

China’s response

In response to the US move to ban TikTok, China’s government said that the move revealed Washington’s own insecurities and was an abuse of state power.

The US government “has been overstretching the concept of national security and abusing state power to suppress other countries’ companies”, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning said at a daily briefing.

“How unsure of itself can the US, the world’s top superpower, be to fear a young person’s favourite app to such a degree?”

TikTok says the concerns are fueled by misinformation and denies using the app to spy on Americans.

TikTok also accused the European Commission last week of failing to consult it over the decision to ban it from staff phones on cybersecurity grounds.

Canada on Monday also announced a ban on TikTok from government-issued devices, saying it presents an “unacceptable” level of risk to privacy and security.

India and Taiwan recently took decisions to block TikTok from government devices, too.

The actions taken by governments do not immediately affect members of the general public, who use TikTok on private or company-owned devices.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

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