UK bans TikTok on government devices following U.S. move

The U.K. plans to ban TikTok on government phones following similar moves in the U.S. and European Union.

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LONDON — The United Kingdom on Thursday announced plans to ban the use of Chinese-owned video app TikTok on government corporate devices.

Cabinet office minister Oliver Dowden said that, following a review by Britain’s cybersecurity experts, it is “clear that there could be a risk around how sensitive government data is accessed and used by certain platforms.”

Dowden added that apps collect huge amounts of data on users, including contacts and location. On government devices, that “data can be sensitive,” he said.

The TikTok ban begins with immediate effect, Dowden said, adding that the move was “precautionary.”

He confirmed the ban would not extend to personal devices for govenment employees. “This is a proportionate move based on a specific risk with government devices.”

The minister also said that government devices will only be able to access third-party apps that are on a pre-approved list.

Britain’s move follows similar rules in the U.S. and European Union. In late February, the White House gave government agencies 30 days to make sure TikTok was not installed on federal devices. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, also banned employees from installing TikTok on corporate and personal devices.

Lawmakers in Washington have repeatedly expressed concern that American user data from TikTok could be sent to China and get into the hands of the government in Beijing.

TikTok has, on several occasions, highlighted the work they’re doing to protect U.S. user data. The company unveiled “Project Texas” last year to “fully safeguard user data and U.S. national security interests.”

TikTok said it is working with U.S. firm Oracle to store all U.S. data by default on the American firm’s cloud, in a move to assuage Washington’s fears.

Pressure is mounting globally on TikTok. The  U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) told ByteDance to sell its shares in TikTok, or the app could face a U.S. ban. Any ban would choke TikTok off from the massive American market.

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