UK Parliament shuts down its TikTok account after MPs flag data security risks
The UK government has shut down a pilot TikTok account following concerns that user data might be exchanged with the Chinese Communist Party.
Parliamentary officials created the page on the social video app in a bid to get younger audiences interested in British politics.
The main concern is that TikTok is owned by Bytedance - a Chinese tech giant.
Three MPs claim that companies in China are required to share data with the Chinese authorities upon their request due to the National Intelligence law.
TikTok maintains it is not obligated to transfer personal data however a recent investigation into a series of leaked TikTok staff meetings has revealed that Chinese-based employees at Bytedance (the parent company of TikTok),can access user information worldwide.
Buzzfeed published a report in June, detailing a number of recordings taken from 80 internal Tiktok meetings.
According to the outlet, employees at ByteDance said engineers in China had access to user information in the United States for several months.
The investigation has raised concerns that the target audience for the UK parliament account could have faced similar security issues.
House speakers, Sir Lindsay Hoyle and Lord John McFall received a letter from a number of MPs calling for the account to be shut down immediately in case the app was being used as spyware.
Tiktok maintains that user data was previously stored in the US and Singapore, not China and offered to meet with MPs to detail the company’s data protection policies and debunk any misconceptions.
Euronews contacted the social media giant for a comment. A spokesperson replied that "While it is disappointing that Parliament will no longer be able to connect with the millions of people who use TikTok in the UK, we reiterate the offer to reassure those Members of Parliament who raised concerns and clarify any inaccuracies about our platform."
However, these concerns were not alleviated within the UK Parliament.
One MP, Nusrat Ghani even vowed to look further into TikTok's procedures through the Common's Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee.
Relations between London and Beijing have become increasingly strained. On Wednesday, UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss slammed China's military response to the US House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan.
The Tory leadership candidate has also voiced her criticism of the video platform. In a recent televised debate, she advised the UK "should be limiting the amount of technology exports we do to authoritarian regimes.”
The app's position on data privacy has promoted the platform to partner with US-based cloud server, Oracle.
Tiktok says all user information will now be kept in the US.