The UK government is asking the National Cyber Security Center to review TikTok
Image sources: Nur Photo/Getty Images
The UK government has asked the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) to review TikTok in a move that could foreshadow the banning of the app from government devices.
Speaking to Sky News, Security Minister Tom Tugendhat said the government had asked the NCSC to look into the popular video-sharing app and told the broadcaster he would not rule out a ban but wanted to wait for the Centre’s review to be completed. “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.
The development follows a report in the Sunday Times over the weekend which suggested a ban was coming. The newspaper recommended that TikTok be banned from all government devices – after initial security assessments raised concerns about the safety of sensitive data.
We have reached out to the Cabinet Office regarding the NCSC review and ban reports and will update this report when we receive a response.
TikTok has also been contacted for comment. A company spokesperson said:
While we await details of any concerns the UK government may have, we would be disappointed by such a move. Similar decisions elsewhere have been based on misplaced fears and seemingly driven by wider geopolitics, but we remain committed to working with the government to address concerns. We have begun implementing a comprehensive plan to further protect our European user data, which includes storing UK user data in our European data centers and tightening data access controls, including independent third-party monitoring of our approach.
Concerns about the security and privacy of TikTok’s user data — as well as concerns that the video-sharing platform’s algorithm-driven content feed is being used as a conduit for Chinese Communist Party propaganda or for state-sponsored information operations to manipulate public opinion. In the West, the Chinese-owned app has been banned in recent months by several governments and public institutions, including the European Commission, the Belgian federal government and the US House of Representatives.
In mid-2020, the Indian government went even further — banning TikTok and a host of other Chinese apps, meaning citizens can’t even download them for personal use — saying it was overcoming concerns that the software poses a risk to the country. security and ‘India’s sovereignty and integrity’ as he put it at the time.
Former US President Donald Trump also caused a headache for TikTok later that year – when he issued an executive order banning transactions with ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, and sought to ban the app from the US.
Trump’s TikTok ban eventually stalled, and after he forced the Chinese company to sell TikTok’s US operations to Oracle, it also stalled. But as the next US president, Joe Biden, rolled back the Trump administration’s TikTok measures, he signed a new order requiring the Commerce Department to review apps linked to “foreign adversary jurisdictions” that pose a national security risk. may mean – so the United States is still paying attention to TikTok.
Responding to Western security concerns, the company has announced several major data localization infrastructure programs.
Last year, it claimed that all US user data had been transferred to US Oracle servers. Similar moves are underway in the EU — meaning EU users’ data has not yet been “localized” — but TikTok recently kicked off its regional PR efforts, saying it will layer new data access and control processes over locally stored data. data. with a promise to bring in an outside auditor, allaying concerns that employees outside the bloc could still access TikTok user data in Europe.
In parallel, EU data protection authorities continue to investigate the overall issue of the legality of TikTok’s regional data export.
The social media platform is facing more bad press in the region today, with a Financial Times report that the company mishandled sexual harassment claims against a senior executive in its London office. Five former employees told the newspaper that they experienced or personally witnessed sexual harassment at the organization in its UK and European offices.
Responding to the FT report, a TikTok spokesperson said:
“Harassment of any kind in our workplace is completely unacceptable and we will face the strictest possible disciplinary action. We are confident that our procedures for detecting, investigating and dealing with complaints of this nature are rigorous.