UK Bans TikTok from Government Phones

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The United Kingdom announced today a ban of the popular social media app TikTok from government mobile phones. The announcement was made by Oliver Dowden, the Cabinet Office minister, with the ban to be taken “with immediate effect.”

Britain’s decision to ban the Chinese-owned video-sharing app from ministers’ and civil servants’ devices mirrors similar actions taken by the United States and the European Commission as relations between the West and China continue to deteriorate.

The decision came a few hours after TikTok’s owner, ByteDance, was told by the United States government to sell the app or face a possible ban there.

In the statement announcing the UK ban, Dowden said, “This is a proportionate move based on a specific risk with government devices.”

The ban will cover ministers’ and civil servants’ work phones but will not apply to their personal phones.

The UK Cabinet Office justified the ban by saying that TikTok requires users to give permission for the app to access data stored on a user’s device, which can be collected by TikTok. These permissions allow the app to collect data such as contacts and geolocation data.

In a statement following the announcement by the British government, a spokesperson for the app said the the government’s decision was driven by “misconceptions.”

“We believe these bans have been based on fundamental misconceptions and driven by wider geopolitics, in which TikTok, and our millions of users in the UK, play no part. We remain committed to working with the government to address any concerns.”

Iain Duncan Smith, a Conservative member of parliament who has consistently raised security concerns about China, said the ban should also cover personal phones due to the proximity of their private phones in government buildings, saying, “The point I’d make is you can’t stop there.”

Dowden, in response to Duncan Smith, said there was “a balance the government has to try to get right.” –i24 News


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