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Updated March 1st, 2023 at 17:19 IST

EU Parliament bans TikTok from staff phones over security concerns; China reacts sharply

EU's decision comes just a day after Canadian government announced sweeping ban on Chinese-based app TikTok from being installed on phones.

Zaini Majeed
EU
IMAGE: AP/Unsplash | Image:self
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European Parliament on February 29 announced its decision of banning the Chinese video-sharing platform TikTok from the government staff's phones in a move mirroring the United States and Canada. Citing national security reasons, the EU ordered the government institution to implement the orders across the European Commission and the European Council branches. The restrictions would apply to all private devices that have the EU Parliament emails and other government websites running on the devices, an EU official reportedly confirmed. 

EU's decision comes just a day after the Canadian government announced a similar sweeping ban on the Chinese-based app TikTok from being installed on all government-issued mobile devices in an effort to tighten security. EU, on Tuesday, also pressed for all government officials and staff to remove TikTok from their personal devices, in what it said was a "strong recommendation" from the bloc leaders.

"In view of cybersecurity concerns, in particular regarding data protection and collection of data by third parties, the European Parliament has decided, in alignment with other institutions, to suspend as from 20 March 2023, the use of the TikTok mobile application on corporate devices,” EU Parliament said in a statement.

'Disappointing to see govt bodies banning TikTok': Spokesperson

Owned by Beijing-based parent company ByteDance, TikTok told CNN business in a written statement that "it’s disappointing to see that other government bodies and institutions are banning TikTok on employee devices with no deliberation or evidence.” These bans are based on basic misinformation about our company, and we are readily available to meet with officials to set the record straight about our ownership structure and our commitment to privacy and data security. We share a common goal with governments that are concerned about user privacy, but these bans are misguided and do nothing to further privacy or security,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying in his response to the restrictive measure. 

“We appreciate that some governments have wisely chosen not to implement such bans due to a lack of evidence that there is any such need,"  TikTok spokesperson  furthermore stated. 

Announcing an immediate ban a day earlier across all government devices, Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, asserted that he does not "rule out" more preventive actions. “I suspect that as the government takes the significant step of telling all federal employees that they can no longer use TikTok on their work phones, many Canadians from business to private individuals will reflect on the security of their own data and perhaps make choices,” he reportedly noted. “I’m always a fan of giving Canadians the information for them to make the right decisions for them," Trudeau maintained. 

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson reacted to the recent strings of the Western ban on TikTok, launching a scathing attack on the US for its initial ban. The White House ordered all federal officials to remove the TikTok within 40 days. US government “has been overstretching the concept of national security and abusing state power to suppress other countries’ companies,” Mao Ning said at a daily briefing. “How unsure of itself can the US, the world’s top superpower, be to fear a young person’s favorite app to such a degree?” she added. While the video app TikTok is widely used by Americans, the Biden administration has propelled concerns about national security, saying that China must be using its legal and regulatory powers to collect the user's data equivalent to an organized surveillance activity.  It is to be noted, that in 2020, In 2020, India banned the Chinese app in the interest of the country's “sovereignty and integrity.”

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Published March 1st, 2023 at 17:19 IST

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