The UK government has prohibited its ministers from using the Chinese-owned app TikTok on their official mobile devices due to security concerns.

The UK government has prohibited its ministers from using the Chinese-owned app TikTok on their official mobile devices due to security concerns.

On security grounds, the use of the Chinese-owned social media app TikTok has been prohibited on work phones and devices by British government ministers.

The government’s concern is that the Chinese government could gain access to sensitive data held on official phones. The ban was introduced immediately as a precautionary measure, according to Cabinet Minister Oliver Dowden.

TikTok has denied accusations that it provides user data to the Chinese government. Theo Bertram, the app’s vice-president of government relations and public policy in Europe, argued that the decision was based more on geopolitics than facts.

While the Chinese embassy in London claimed the move was politically motivated, the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak faced pressure from senior MPs to follow the US and European Union in prohibiting the video-sharing app from official government devices.

Despite its success in reaching younger audiences and its use by government departments and individual ministers, Dowden has advised the public to consider each social media platform’s data policies before downloading and using them.

TikTok has achieved popularity through the ease of creating short videos with music and fun filters, as well as its algorithm, which serves up videos that appeal to individual users based on information gathered about their age, location, device, and even their typing rhythms.

While US-based social media sites also collect user data, ByteDance, TikTok’s Chinese parent company, has faced allegations of being influenced by Beijing.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) uploaded a TikTok video featuring a Challenger 2 tank, which is being supplied to Ukraine, on its account just hours before the ban prohibiting UK ministers from using the Chinese-owned app was announced.

According to the MoD, they will still use the app “to promote the work of the Armed Forces and convey their support to Ukraine”. The MoD also mentioned that their sensitive data is “stored on a separate system.”

Ministers and civil servants in Wales are also prohibited from using TikTok on their work phones. Meanwhile, the Scottish government is in discussions with the Cabinet Office to determine whether additional measures are needed.

Nevertheless, officials at Holyrood have urged MSPs and staff to delete the app from their devices, citing security concerns.

In response to the UK government’s decision, TikTok issued a statement on Thursday, asserting that the ban was rooted in “fundamental misconceptions” and pledged to collaborate with authorities to allay any concerns.

The spokesperson added that TikTok should be judged on its merits and treated equally with its competitors.

Several Western journalists were discovered to have been monitored by employees of ByteDance. The company claims that the employees responsible for the monitoring were terminated.

A TikTok user from the US posted a video expressing criticism of the Chinese government’s handling of the Uighur Muslim community, and the video was subsequently removed. TikTok acknowledged that the removal was an error.

These incidents have intensified concerns among governments and security experts, despite ByteDance’s repeated denials. Due to China’s demand for loyalty from all companies operating within its borders, it remains unclear how far ByteDance could be coerced into complying with demands for access to user data.

In December, TikTok was prohibited on official devices by the United States, and the European Commission implemented a similar ban last month. Canada, Belgium, and India have also taken comparable measures. On Friday, New Zealand followed suit by imposing a ban on government devices.

China has accused the United States of spreading disinformation and suppressing TikTok. There have been reports that the White House wants the Chinese owners of TikTok to divest their stakes in the firm.

TikTok maintains that it does not share data with Chinese officials, but Chinese intelligence laws require companies to cooperate with the Communist Party if requested.

Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are Western social media apps that are blocked in China.

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