UK government bans TikTok after security threats

Anna Nix discusses TikTok’s security threats which have caused the banning of the app by the UK government

Anna Nix
24th April 2023
Image credit: Flickr
TikTok has officially been banned on government electronic devices.

The UK now stands in line with the European Commission and the United States with similar restrictions concerning the social media app.

The app is banned on government devices only. It does not apply to personal devices for government employees, ministers, or the public. However, individuals are warned to consider each social media platform’s data policies before using them.

The app is banned on government devices only

The ban was issued by the UK government on Thursday, March 19, 2023, and it was effective immediately.

The ban turned around UK’s previous stand on this issue which didn’t agree with banning the app. The Science Secretary, Michelle Donelan, previously stated that prohibiting the use of the app would require more evidence to justify such an action.

The ban turned around UK’s previous stand on this issue which didn’t agree with banning the app

The ban came after Cabinet Office Ministers ordered a security review, which considered the potential vulnerability of government data on social media apps and how such information could be accessed by some platforms.

According to the UK’s government website, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Oliver Dowden said: “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.

“Restricting the use of TikTok on Government devices is a prudent and proportionate step following advice from our cyber security experts.”

TikTok is owned by the Chinese company, ByteDance. The app requires its users to give permission for the app to access data stored on their device, which are then collected and stored by the company.

The government, along with the international partners who have taken similar precautions, is concerned about how the app is using the data.

Currently, there is a limited need for any government staff to use the app on their work devices.

Some exceptions for the use of TikTok on government devices will be granted on a case-by-case basis and with security mitigations put in place. Such exemptions will cover areas such as individuals working in relevant enforcement roles or for the purpose of working on online harms.

Before this ban was issued, at least nine MPs were still active on TikTok. Some of the names included Cabinet minister Grant Shapps, former Health Secretary Matt Hancock, and former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

While parliament’s official account was shut down last year, the official No10 account has been dormant since Boris Johnson left office last July.

According to ChronicleLive, deference Secretary Ben Wallace warned: “TikTok is overall owned by a Chinese company. I think if you put your data on there, you’re not just sharing it with the person you’re publishing it [with].”

ByteDabce has given a statement following the bans on TikTok.

"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. We remain committed to working with the government to address any concerns,” said ByteDance according to Forbes.

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