European Commission staff banned from using TikTok

European Commission staff banned from using TikTok
# 23 February 2023 16:52 (UTC +04:00)

In an unprecedented move, the European Commission has banned staff from using the Chinese social media app TikTok over security concerns, in the latest example of growing strains between Beijing and the West, APA reports citing Politico.

Western governments are increasingly alarmed by evidence that Chinese technology companies assist the Communist Party and its intelligence services in gathering vast amounts of data all over the world — with a particular focus on high-value political and security targets.

A senior official told POLITICO that all staff were ordered on Thursday morning to remove TikTok from their official devices and that they must also remove the app from their personal devices if they have any work-related apps installed.

Alternatively, the staff members can delete work-related apps from their personal phones if they insist on keeping TikTok.

“To protect Commission’s data and increase its cybersecurity, the EC Corporate Management Board has decided to suspend the TikTok application on corporate devices and personal devices enrolled in the Commission mobile device service,” said the email sent to staff on Thursday morning.

Officials are required to uninstall the video-sharing app “at their earliest convenience” and before March 15. “As of 15 March, devices with the app installed will be considered non-compliant with the corporate environment,” the email read.

The Commission said that this is the first time it has suspended the use of an app for its staff.

Spokespeople Eric Mamer and Sonya Gospodinova said it had been the result of a “careful” analysis. They declined, however, to disclose information that led them to conclude the app poses significant cybersecurity and data risks for the EU executive.

They said the restriction was temporary under “constant review and possible reassessments.”

The Commission has a “bring your own device” policy that senior officials describe as “horrible” from a security perspective.

The other institutions of the European Union, including the Council and the Parliament, are likely to follow up eventually with a ban on the Chinese app, although it may take much longer for the Parliament in particular to be able to implement such a policy.

In a statement to POLITICO, TikTok said the decision was "misguided."

“We are disappointed with this decision, which we believe to be misguided and based on fundamental misconceptions,” said a TikTok spokesperson. “We have contacted the Commission to set the record straight and explain how we protect the data of the 125 million people across the EU who come to TikTok every month.”