EU Commission Bans TikTok On Officials’ Phones. Will The UK Follow?

Luke Evans, Matt Hancock and Zarah Sultana
Luke Evans, Matt Hancock and Zarah Sultana

Luke Evans, Matt Hancock and Zarah Sultana

Scores of MPs have taken to TikTok in a bid to reach out to members of the public through snappy video clips.

There you can find Matt Hancock flipping pancakes, Labour MP Zarah Sultana campaigning for free school meals and Nadine Dorries riding a self-driving car.

Some eyebrows have been raised over a recent TikTok video shared by Tory MP Dr Luke Evans who filmed himself navigating the Downing Street entrance.

The social media website allows MPs to connect directly with voters, particularly younger people who have flocked to the app.

Last week, energy secretary Grant Shapps praised TikTok, calling it “social media on crack”.

However, some of his colleagues disagree about its merits and are calling for government officials to be banned from using the app.


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Why Did The EU Ban TikTok?

Staff working at the European Commission have been ordered to remove the TikTok app from their phones and corporate devices.

The commission said it was implementing the measure to “protect data and increase cybersecurity”.

EU spokeswoman Sonya Gospodinova said the the EU’s executive arm had made the decision for security reasons.

“The measure aims to protect the Commission against cybersecurity threats and actions which may be exploited for cyberattacks against the corporate environment of the commission,” she said.

The ban also means that EU Commission staff cannot use TikTok on personal devices that have official apps installed.

What Is Bad About TikTok?

TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance and has faced allegations that it harvests users’ data and hands it to the Chinese government. TikTok insists it operates no differently from other social media firms.

However, last year, TikTok did admit that some staff in China can access the data of European users.

The US government banned TikTok last year on federal government-issued devices due to national security concerns. They fear the Chinese government may use TikTok to access US user data.

The UK parliament’s TikTok account was also shut down last year after MPs raised concerns on the firm’s links to China.


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What Are British Politicians Saying?

Alicia Kearns, the Commons foreign affairs committee chair, is leading the call for the UK government to ban officials using TikTok.

“We’ve now seen both the EU and the US take action on TikTok over security concerns: the acquisition of our personal data by a hostile state,” she told the Telegraph.

“The government needs to review its policies and look to ban government officials and parliamentary staff from installing the app on any mobile phones utilised for work, if not any device.”

Former leader of the Conservative Party Iain Duncan Smith also claims that TikTok is a “security threat” because of its links to China.

He has called the platform a “data harvester” that could be accessed by the Chinese security services to “compromise” users in future.


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What Is Downing Street’s View?

Prime minister Rishi Sunak has so far resisted calls to ban government officials from using TikTok.

A No.10 spokesman said that he was “not aware” of any ban on Downing Street staff using TikTok.

“We have got a TikTok account but I don’t think we’ve put anything on it for a little while now,” he said.

“It’s for individual departments and ministers to choose which social media platforms they want to use.”