Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden confirmed a ban on TikTok on government devices in a statement to Parliament today, March 16. This follows the move from the EU Commision and several US states where the social media app is already banned from government devices.
There are fears TikTok could be used to gather data from devices and promote pro-China views. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak previously hinted at following moves made by the US and EU in banning the app on government devices, saying the UK will "look at what our allies are doing.”
Speaking in a statement to Parliament, Oliver Dowden said: “The ban will not extend to personal devices for government employees, ministers or the general public. That is because as I have outlined, this is a proportionate move based on a specific risk with government devices. However, as is always the case, we do advise individuals to practice caution online and consider each social media platform’s data policies before downloading and using them.
“Overall this approach aligns with action taken by allies including the United States, Canada and the EU. Our security must always come first, and today we are strengthening that security in a prudent and proportionate way.”
Earlier this week, security minister Tom Tugendhat confirmed he had asked the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to look into the safety of the Chinese-owned TikTok app.
Last year, the UK Parliament closed down its TikTok account after concerns were raised by MPs. TikTok has hit back at government bans, calling them "misguided and based on fundamental misconceptions.”
TikTok first launched in China in 2016 and by October 2020 had surpassed 2 billion mobile downloads worldwide. It is owned and developed by Chinese based company ‘ByteDance’.