EU body imposes staff TikTok ban

The European Commission has followed the example of the United States and banned staff from using the Chinese social media app TikTok over security concerns.

An email ordering all staff to remove TikTok from their official devices has been shared on Twitter. Officials working in the Commission must also remove the app from their personal devices if they store any work-related content there.

“To protect the Commission’s data and increase its cybersecurity, the EC Corporate Management Board has decided to suspend the TikTok application on corporate devices and personal devices enrolled in the Commission mobile device service,” said the email sent to staff on Thursday morning.

Officials have to uninstall the popular video-sharing app before March 15. If TikTok is still installed on the device, people will not be able to bring their phone, laptop, or tablet to the “corporate environment”, the email added.

According to POLITICO, other institutions of the European Union, including the European Council and the European Parliament, are likely to follow with their own ban on TikTok. The app is regularly used by around 125 million Europeans.

This is not surprising. Governments in the West are increasingly concerned that Chinese tech companies – TikTok is one of them – assist the Beijing regime in gathering vast amounts of user data, especially sensitive political and security information.

Besides, Cybernews has recently reported that TikTok, owned by the Chinese internet company ByteDance, updated its privacy policy and explicitly confirmed that China-based company employees can access European user data.

Earlier reports also showed that TikTok might have transferred data of American users to China-based servers.

TikTok tells consumers it has never given China’s government access to their data. However, as a Chinese company subject to Chinese law, the company must cooperate with China’s intelligence activities.

The US, where TikTok has been under pressure for a couple of years, moved in December 2022 to ban the app from all federal government devices. Several states have also implemented their own restrictions.

In November, Christopher Wray, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, told US lawmakers Beijing could use TikTok to control user data and devices. According to Wray, China has already stolen more American data than every other nation combined.