European Commission bans TikTok on its employees’ devices

27. 02. 2023 | Michal Krcmar

European Commission employees have been ordered to remove the TikTok app from their phones and company devices.

The Commission said it was introducing the measure to “protect data and enhance cybersecurity”. The TikTok app, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, has faced accusations of collecting user data and passing it on to the Chinese government. TikTok insists it does not operate differently from other social media platforms. EU spokeswoman Sonia Gospodin said the board of the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, took the decision for security reasons.

“The aim of the measure is to protect the Commission from cyber security threats and actions that can be used to launch cyber attacks against the Commission’s corporate environment,” she said.

The ban also means that European Commission staff cannot use TikTok on personal devices that have official apps installed. They must remove the app as soon as possible, but no later than 15 March. Those who fail to do so by the deadline will no longer be able to use the company’s apps – such as the Commission’s email and Skype for Business. TikTok said the commission’s decision was based on misconceptions about its platform.

“We are disappointed by this decision, which we believe is flawed and based on fundamental misconceptions,” a spokesperson said.
TikTok admitted last year that some employees in China had access to European users’ data. TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, has faced increasing Western interest in recent months over concerns about Beijing’s access to user data. The U.S. government banned TikTok last year on devices issued by the federal government because of national security concerns. The U.S. fears that the Chinese government may use TikTok to access these devices and U.S. user data. Last month, the Dutch government reportedly advised government officials to avoid the app due to similar concerns.

In the UK, the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Alicia Kearns MP, recently called on users to delete the app in an interview with Sky News. According to analytics company Sensor Tower Data, TikTok has grown rapidly, becoming the first non-Meta app to reach three billion downloads globally.

The social network’s chief executive Shou Zi Chew was in Brussels in January for a meeting with EU officials, during which they warned TikTok to ensure the security of European users’ data, adding that it had a long way to go to regain their trust. The European Parliament said that while it acknowledges the Commission’s statement, TikTok is not part of the standard configuration of corporate devices.

“The Parliament is constantly monitoring cyber security threats and actions that can be exploited to launch cyber attacks on its corporate environment,” the source said. Czech MEP Marketa Gregorova said she was “very happy” that the Commission had taken the decision and criticised the “hostility” of the Chinese government. “I also hope that this will open a general discussion about cybersecurity in our institutions and how much the different levels across the Commission, Parliament and Council differ,” she said.


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Author of this article

Michal Krcmar

Michal Krčmář is a man behind the idea of JustFreeTools who came with a vision to create one of the world’s top free tools providers to help individuals to learn programming, marketing, and make calculations easier than ever.


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