European Commission bans TikTok
The European Commission (EC) has ordered its employees to uninstall the popular Chinese-owned social media app TikTok from corporate devices, explaining the move as necessary to bolster cybersecurity.
To protect the EC’s data and increase its cybersecurity, its management board has “decided to suspend the TikTok application on corporate devices and personal devices enrolled in the Commission mobile device services,” according to a statement posted by the body on Thursday.
Staffers have until mid-March to comply or else lose access to their EC email and Skype for Business apps, EURACTIV reported, citing an IT email sent to staff.
A TikTok spokesperson told EURACTIV that the ban is “misguided and based on fundamental misconceptions” about the social media platform. The spokesperson said the company had “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.”
Last month, a group of Republican lawmakers in the US introduced the ‘No TikTok on United States Devices Act’, which seeks to ban the platform on all devices in the country. One of the bill's authors, Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), argued at the time that the app “opens the door for the Chinese Communist Party to access Americans’ personal information, keystrokes, and location through aggressive data harvesting.”
In December 2022, Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered state agencies to “eliminate all cybersecurity risks posed by TikTok” and prohibited the use of the app on government-provided devices. Reports at the time suggested that lawmakers and staff at the US House of Representatives had also been instructed to uninstall the app from any corporate devices.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing last year that the agency had “national security concerns” about TikTok, including the “possibility that the Chinese government could use it to control data collection on millions of users, or control the recommendation algorithm.”
Commenting on the allegations at the time, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning accused US officials of “spreading disinformation” in a bid to discredit a large Chinese firm competing with Western social media giants.
ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, also dismissed claims that it ever planned to track Americans.