UK bans TikTok on government phones; Chinese embassy urges respect of 'facts'
The Chinese embassy says the ban is a political decision and not because of 'facts'. /Dado Ruvic/Reuters
The Chinese embassy says the ban is a political decision and not because of 'facts'. /Dado Ruvic/Reuters

The Chinese embassy says the ban is a political decision and not because of 'facts'. /Dado Ruvic/Reuters

The UK has banned TikTok on government phones with immediate effect, a move that follows other Western countries who have barred the Chinese-owned video app over security concerns.

"The security of sensitive government information must come first, so today we are banning this app on government devices," Britain's Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden said. "The use of other data-extracting apps will be kept under review."

The Chinese-owned video app said it was disappointed with the decision.

"We believe these bans have been based on fundamental misconceptions and driven by wider geopolitics, in which TikTok, and our millions of users in the UK, play no part," a TikTok spokesperson said.


TikTok added it remained committed to working with the UK government to address any concerns but "should be judged on facts and treated equally to our competitors."

The Chinese embassy added: "The British side made the relevant decision for political purposes rather than based on facts, interfering with the normal operation of the enterprises concerned in the UK, undermining the international community's confidence in the UK's business environment and ultimately only harming the British side's own interests. 

"We urge the British side to respect objective facts, abide by the rules of market economy and the principle of fair competition, refrain from generalizing and abusing the concept of national security, and provide a fair, transparent and non-discriminatory business environment for enterprises of all countries."


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The app has come under increasing scrutiny due to fears over how user data may be used by the Beijing-based company ByteDance that owns the app.

The British government had asked the National Cyber Security Centre to look at the potential vulnerability of government data from social media apps and risks around how sensitive information could be accessed and used.

The U.S., Canada, Belgium and the European Commission have already banned the app from official devices.

"Restricting the use of TikTok on government devices is a prudent and proportionate step following advice from our cyber security experts," Dowden added.

Dowden told parliament government devices would now only be able to access third party apps from a pre-approved list.

The TikTok ban does not include personal devices of government employees or ministers and there would be limited exemptions where TikTok was required on government devices for work purposes, he added.


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Source(s): Reuters

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