UK ministers face TikTok ban

The government is expected to ban ministers and civil servants from having the Chinese-owned social media app TikTok on their work phones. 

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The video app “has been under increasing scrutiny over its security and data privacy”, said The Telegraph, and Parliament’s own TikTok account was shut down last August after MPs raised concerns about the app’s links to Beijing. Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden is expected to confirm the ban in a statement today.

“Until recently, the UK had been relaxed about TikTok,” said The Guardian. But following an initial review by a cabinet committee, experts at GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre have “assessed the app and identified risks to sensitive information”, The Sunday Times reported. 

TikTok “has long maintained” that it does not store users’ data in China, but Beijing’s laws require firms, including tech companies, to aid the Communist Party and its intellectual services “when asked to do so”, said the newspaper. Western security officials have warned that “this could expose vast amounts of data” globally. 

Rishi Sunak hinted at the ban on Monday. When asked if TikTok should be banned from government devices, the prime minister said that Westminster was looking “at what our allies are doing. And we’re in the process of doing all of that.” 

US federal agency employees have been told to delete the app from government devices, while Belgium, the Netherlands and the European Commission have imposed bans on all official devices. 

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TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, has attempted to assuage concerns, said The Guardian.

Last week, it outlined a European security deal, dubbed Project Clover, that would see European user data stored on servers in Ireland and Norway, and any outside transfers “vetted by a third-party IT company”. A similar scheme, involving Oracle, is being considered in the US.

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