Rishi Sunak Faces Calls to Ban TikTok use by Government Officials – In light of rising cybersecurity concerns over China, Rishi Sunak has been requested to follow the lead of the EU and US by forbidding government officials from using TikTok. As a result of apprehensions that Beijing can access data, officials in Europe and the US have been advised to curtail their use of the social video app, which is owned by a Chinese company.
The European Commission made a decision this week to halt the usage of TikTok on devices given to employees, and even on personal phones if they have official apps installed. This decision was made after Washington’s ban last year on federal workers using the app on work devices. Despite this, the prime minister is currently resisting calls to forbid parliamentary staff and MPs from using TikTok, which has gained popularity among UK politicians. A No 10 spokesperson said he was “not aware” of any ban on Downing Street staff using the platform.
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“We (No 10) 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.” On Thursday, the Conservative MP Luke Evans posted a 48-second video on the app, showing his 41,000-strong following what it is like going through security to get into No 10.
Alicia Kearns, the chair of the Commons foreign affairs committee said: “We’ve now seen both the EU and US take decisive action on TikTok over security concerns: the acquisition of our personal data by a hostile state. We run the risk of becoming a tech security laggard amongst free and open nations.”
“The government needs to reconsider its policies and move to ban government officials and parliamentary staff from installing the app on any mobile phones utilised for work. We need an informed discussion across our country, including with our children, about the importance of our data and all it can reveal about us, and how it can make us vulnerable.”
East Worthing and Shoreham’s Conservative MP, Tim Loughton, has urged the prime minister to take “concerted action” in response to threats from the Chinese state. Loughton described TikTok as a “mega state-affiliated data harvesting organization” and argued that the UK should not treat it on the same level as other multinational companies from the West.
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Likewise, the defence secretary, Ben Wallace, said he did not have TikTok and that it was important to be “careful” about any social media site. “TikTok is overall owned by a Chinese company and I think if you put your data on there you are not just sharing it with the person publishing it. The caution is, be careful what you put on these things,” he told LBC.