TikTok app banned by European Commission on staff devices

The European Commission has instructed its employees to remove the TikTok app from their phones and corporate devices. The commission stated that it was implementing the measure in order to "protect data and enhance cybersecurity." 

TikTok has been accused of collecting user information for the Chinese government.

TikTok insists it operates similarly to other social media platforms. 

EU spokesperson Sonya Gospodinova stated that the decision was made for security reasons by the corporate management board of the European Commission, the EU's executive arm. 

She mentioned how the measure aims to protect the Commission from cybersecurity threats and actions. This could be used to launch cyberattacks against the Commission's corporate environment.

According to the commission, it has approximately 32,000 permanent and contract employees. 

They must remove the application immediately and no later than March 15th. 

Those who do not comply by the specified date will no longer have access to corporate apps such as commission email and Skype for Business. 

TikTok stated that the commission's decision was based on erroneous assumptions regarding its platform. 

A spokesperson said they were disappointed with the decision as they believe it is based on fundamental misunderstandings and is misguided. Last year, TikTok acknowledged that some Chinese employees have access to the data of European users. 

ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, has come under increasing scrutiny from the West in recent months due to fears about Beijing's access to user data. 

Due to national security concerns, the US government prohibited the use of TikTok on government-issued devices in 2018. 

According to reports, the Dutch government advised public officials to avoid the app last month for similar reasons. 

In a recent interview with Sky News, the chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee in the United Kingdom, Alicia Kearns, urged users to delete the app.

Sensor Tower Data, an analytics firm, reports that TikTok was the first non-Meta app to reach three billion downloads globally. 

In January, the CEO of the social media service, Shou Zi Chew, met with EU officials in Brussels, where they warned TikTok to ensure the safety of European users' data, adding that the company had a long way to go to regain their trust. 

A spokesperson for the EU stated at the time that he insisted the company was working on a "robust" system for processing Europeans' data in Europe. 

TikTok has also pledged to store the data of US users in the United States in an effort to allay Washington's concerns. 

According to a source from the European Union, the Council of the European Union is implementing similar measures to those taken by the Commission. 

Despite taking note of the Commission's statement, the European Parliament stated that TikTok is not part of the standard configuration for corporate devices.

A source stated that the Parliament continuously monitors cyberthreats and actions that could be exploited for cyberattacks against its corporate environment.

MEP Markéta Gregorová of the Czech Republic stated that she was "extremely pleased" with the Commission's decision and criticized the "hostility" of the Chinese government.