The EU’s executive arm has banned thousands of its staff from using TikTok over cybersecurity concerns, a decision the Chinese-owned social video app has tagged as “misguided” and based on “fundamental misconceptions”.
The European Commission ordered employees via mail to delete the app from all work-related devices, and any personally owned ones that use the commission’s apps and email.
A spokesperson said: “This measure aims to protect the commission against cybersecurity threats and actions which may be exploited for cyber-attacks against the corporate environment of the commission. The security developments of other social media platforms will also be kept under constant review.”
The ban is in line with its “strict internal cybersecurity policies” and longstanding advice to staff to “apply best practices when using social media platforms and keep high-level of cyber awareness in their daily work.
“It is therefore our duty to respond as early as possible to potential cyber alerts,” the spokesperson said.
ByteDance, the privately owned parent company of TikTok, denied there was any data security breach and added that it wishes to “set the record straight” with the commission.
“We are disappointed with this decision, which we believe to be misguided and based on fundamental misconceptions,” said a spokesperson for TikTok. “We have contacted the commission to set the record straight and explain how we protect the data of the 125 million people across the EU who come to TikTok every month.”
ByteDance did say that it has taken security seriously, and announced the establishment of 3 new datacentres in Europe to ensure users’ information was stored locally.
Government establishments across Europe and the US have had to adopt similar measures to the commission to restrict the use of the app by staff members amid fears that data may be accessed by Beijing.
Conservative MPs lodged a campaign that resulted in the closure of the @ukparliament TikTok account.
TikTok in US has been banned on all federal government devices. Most states in the US have imposed similar bans. The Netherlands, too, are considering similar sanctions on government employees using TikTok.
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