Chinese app TikTok to be banned on UK government phones
Chinese-owned social media app TikTok is set to be banned on phones and other devices used by government ministers and civil servants on security grounds.
Cabinet Office Minister Oliver Dowden will make a statement to MPs later.
There has been no official comment – but Security Minister Tom Tugendhat had asked the National Cyber Security Centre to review the issue.
TikTok has strongly denied allegations that it hands users’ data to the Chinese government.
A number of government departments have TikTok accounts – and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) uploaded a video of a Challenger 2 tank, a type being supplied to Ukraine, to its account this morning.
Ministers have come under pressure from senior MPs to follow the United States and the European Commission in banning the app.
The US banned TikTok from official devices in December, and the Commission followed suit last month.
Canada, Belgium and India have taken similar action.
China has accused the US of spreading disinformation and suppressing TikTok amid reports the White House wants its Chinese owners to sell their stakes in the firm.
Earlier this week, the prime minister said the UK would “look at what our allies are doing”.
TikTok said bans had been based on “misplaced fears and seemingly driven by wider geopolitics”, adding it would be “disappointed by such a move” in the UK.
It has said it does not share data with Chinese officials, but Chinese intelligence laws requires firms to help the Communist Party when requested.
Critics fear the policy could expose data on devices used by political leaders and officials to Beijing.
The UK Parliament closed its TikTok account last August. The Downing Street TikTok page has not been updated since Boris Johnson left office in September last year but others including the MoD and Energy Secretary Grant Shapps, have updated their pages more recently.
On Wednesday, Science and Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan, who also has a TikTok account, told MPs the public could go on using the app.
She said: “It is absolutely a personal choice. But because we have the strongest data protection laws in the world, we are confident that the public can continue to use it.”
TikTok hosts short-form videos submitted by its users. In 2022, it became the world’s most downloaded app.