In a move that follows similar bans across the EU and most US states, the UK Government has officially banned the Chinese-owned app TikTok on all government employee phones. The ban comes amid rising concerns around the potential misuse of TikTok data, with many cybersecurity experts warning that it could be used to track citizen movements and monitor user activity.
This latest decision follows a review of TikTok by government cybersecurity experts, which began in November and will cover ministers’ and civil servants’ work phones, but not their personal phones. This is intended to be a ‘proportionate move based on a specific risk with government devices,’ according to Cabinet Office Minister Oliver Dowden.
These latest moves come in response to the revelation late last year that representatives from TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, had used data from the app to track the movements of US journalists in an attempt to uncover who may be leaking info to the press. As such, many are growing concerned over the misuse of TikTok data, leading to increasing bans on government-owned devices.
However, it is worth noting that any sale of TikTok as a Chinese asset would also require approval from the Chinese Government, which has repeatedly expressed its disapproval of the various bans on the app.
In general, banning TikTok on government devices in the UK makes sense because the app could be used as a vector to track people's movements and keep track of who they are meeting. In some cases, a complete ban of the app for all users is possible, as the U.S. government is reportedly trying to pressure TikTok to be sold to Chinese owners if it wants to continue operating in the region. Ultimately, how this plays out will depend on geopolitical tensions at the moment.
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