Britain has banned TikTok on government phones with immediate effect. It bars the Chinese-owned video app over security concerns.
TikTok is under pressure due to fears that its user data could land in the hands of the Chinese government. This undermines Western security interests, as the app is owned by Beijing-based company ByteDance.
“The security of sensitive government information must come first, so today we are banning this app on government devices. The use of other data-extracting apps will be kept under review,” said UK Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden.
Britain has asked the National Cyber Security Centre to check the risks of government data from social media apps and how sensitive info may be used.
The United States, Canada, Belgium and the European Commission have banned the app from government devices.
“Restricting the use of TikTok on government devices is a prudent and proportionate step following advice from our cyber security experts,” Dowden said.
TikTok said it has started to take steps to further protect European user data.
“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,” a TikTok spokesperson said.
China said the decision relied on politics rather than facts.
The Chinese embassy in London said the move “interferes with the normal operations of relevant companies in the UK and will ultimately only harm the UK’s own interests.”
Dowden said UK parliament government devices would have a preapproved list of social media apps moving forward.
The TikTok ban excludes personal devices of government employees or ministers.
The British government had increased its use of TikTok and other social media platforms to communicate with voters.
Energy Minster Grant Shapps said the ban on government devices made sense. Still, he would stay on the platform on his personal phone.
The Ministry of Defence posted a video on the platform shortly before the ban was announced. It shows how the British army trained Ukrainian forces to use the Challenger 2 battle tank.