Feb 23 – The European Commission has banned TikTok from employee phones, citing cyber security. Owned by Chinese company ByteDance, in recent months, the app has come under increased international scrutiny, especially as political tensions have heated up.
Chinese national security laws can force both foreign and domestic businesses within the country to share data with the government upon request. There are concerns around China’s potential use of the app to harvest users’ data or to otherwise advance its own interests.
In October of 2022, Forbes reported that ByteDance planned to use TikTok “to monitor the personal location” of select American citizens. ByteDance denied the allegations.
EU industry chief Thierry Breton says that the EU Commission is the first EU institution to enact this type of ban. Whether or not the Commission had been subject to any security incidents related to TikTok remains unclear.
In responding to the announcement, the TikTok company said that it was disappointed and surprised that the Commission had not contacted them ahead of instituting the ban.
“We believe this suspension is misguided and based on fundamental misconceptions. We have contacted the Commission to set the record straight and explain how we protect the data of the 125 million people across the EU who come to TikTok every month,” said a TikTok spokesperson.
In 2022, the U.S. Senate passed a bill that would bar federal employees from having TikTok on government-owned devices. India imposed a national ban on TikTok for security reasons in 2020. For reasons unrelated to cyber security, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Azerbaijan and Syria have also banned the app.
The EU Commission ban begins on March 15th and will affect thousands of employees throughout the European Union’s top executive body.
According to the European Commission, security developments across other social media platforms will be closely monitored.
The European Parliament stated that it was aware of the Commission’s decision.