Britain bans TikTok on government phones

Britain bans TikTok on government phones

British Security Minister Tom Tugendhat said on Tuesday that he has asked the country’s National Cyber ​​Security Center to investigate and report back to potential national security threats posed by the popular video-sharing app TikTok. File photo: Alex Plavevski/EPA-EFE
FBI Director Christopher Wray testified about TikTok on Wednesday, among other things, at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on global threats at the US Capitol in Washington. Photo: Bonnie Cash/UPI

March 14 (UPI) — Britain could follow the United States, the European Union and Canada in banning TikTok from government phones, according to the country’s security minister, who is investigating potential security risks from the Chinese-owned app.

Security Minister Tom Tugendhat said on Tuesday he had asked the National Cyber ​​Security Center to investigate TikTok, saying it was “absolutely essential” to Britain’s “keeping diplomatic processes free and secure”.


“Make sure our phones aren’t spyware. It’s incredibly important to understand exactly what challenges these apps pose, what they ask for, and how they intrude into our lives,” he said.

“What’s certainly clear is that for many young people, TikTok is now a source of news. And just as it’s absolutely right to know who the news sources are in the UK… it’s important to know who the news sources are fed into our phones.”

Tugendhat, an Army veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, did not rule out a ban on government phones, but said he wanted to wait for the NCSC’s conclusions.

Parliament has already closed its own TikTok account after MPs raised concerns about security last year.

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Tuesday’s announcement came a day after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Britain would review bans on government phones imposed by the US, EU and Canada.

TikTok is under intense scrutiny from Western governments over security and privacy concerns amid fears the app could be used to collect and transmit user data to Beijing or promote a pro-China agenda.

The company denies claims it is handing over data to the Chinese government and insists it operates no differently than other social media platforms.

The EU Commission and more than half of US states have already banned over concerns about potential cyberattacks.

In a February 27 memo, the White House Office of Management and Budget gave federal agencies 30 days to delete TikTok from the work devices of staff and contractors.

The US Senate passed legislation in December to ban TikTok from government-issued devices. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) unanimously passed the TikTok Ban on Government Devices bill, which was sent to the House for approval.

President Joe Biden signed the bill into law on December 29 as part of the 2023 spending bill for the federal government.

Last month, the European Commission instructed its 32,000 employees to remove the TikTok app from their devices as soon as possible, but no later than March 15.

President Donald Trump’s 2020 attempt to introduce a full ban was later blocked in the courts.

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