The British government has announced that it will ban the use of the popular video-sharing app TikTok on government-issued devices over security concerns, Reuters reports.
The move follows similar decisions made by the United States, Canada, Belgium, and the European Commission.
Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden stated that “the security of sensitive government information must come first, so today we are banning this app on government devices. The use of other data-extracting apps will be kept under review.”
The decision was made after the National Cyber Security Centre was asked to examine the potential vulnerability of government data from social media apps and the risks associated with how sensitive information could be accessed and used.
TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, has faced increasing scrutiny over fears that user data could end up in the hands of the Chinese government, thereby compromising Western security interests.
A spokesperson for TikTok expressed disappointment over the ban, stating that “we remain committed to working with the government to address any concerns but should be judged on facts and treated equally to our competitors.”
However, Dowden defended the decision, stating that “restricting the use of TikTok on government devices is a prudent and proportionate step following advice from our cybersecurity experts.”
He also noted that the ban would not apply to personal devices of government employees or ministers and that there would be limited exemptions where TikTok was required on government devices for work purposes.
Going forward, government devices will only be able to access third-party apps from a pre-approved list.
The move is aimed at ensuring that sensitive government information is protected from potential security breaches.