TikTok banned on UK government devices

The UK government has followed in the footsteps of its US and European counterparts and banned the use of Chinese social media app TikTok on authentic devices

Alex Scroxton


Published: 16 Mar 2023 14: 00

The UK government has banned the use of the Gen Z-loved, China-owned social media application TikTok on government-owned devices with instant attain, following in the footsteps of its United States and European Rate counterparts.

The ban follows a evaluation of TikTok performed by the Nationwide Cyber Safety Centre (NCSC), and used to be extensively anticipated to be imminent in the wake of remarks made earlier in the week by top minister Rishi Sunak and security minister Tom Tugendhat.

“The government is strongly committed to bolstering our national security to meet the challenges of this day and of day after as of late. We buy the security of government devices very seriously and we are consistently working to verify that those devices live as protected and win as that you most certainly might well factor in,” acknowledged chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Oliver Dowden in an announcement to the Dwelling of Commons this day.

As phase of this effort, the NCSC evaluation explored the risks posed by some third-celebration apps on government devices, in particular TikTok.

“That evaluation has now concluded and it is obvious that there generally is a risk spherical how sensitive government information is accessed and aged by certain platforms,” he acknowledged.

“Social media apps salvage and retailer big portions of particular person information alongside side contacts, particular person affirm material and geolocation information. On government devices that information might well perhaps even be sensitive, and so this day we are strengthening the security of those devices in two key respects,” acknowledged Dowden.

“First, we are transferring to a procedure where government devices will most effective be in a location to win admission to third-celebration apps that are on a pre-authorized checklist. This methodology is already in living across many departments; now that is also the rule across government. 2d, we are also going to ban the use of TikTok on government devices. We are able to enact so with instant attain.”

Dowden acknowledged that the ban used to be a “precautionary switch” and that the government used to bear in mind that use of TikTok across the Westminster property is proscribed, nonetheless that to ban it represented “sincere cyber hygiene”.

He added: “Given the actual risk spherical government devices that will perhaps perhaps accept as true with sensitive information, it is each prudent and proportionate to restrict the use of certain apps, in particular in phrases of apps where a gigantic quantity of information might well perhaps even be stored and accessed.”

The ban applies to government devices within ministerial and non-ministerial departments nonetheless doesn’t extend to non-public devices aged by government workers, ministers, or the identical old public. Restricted exemptions might well perhaps also very well be provided on a case-by-case foundation, nonetheless Dowden didn’t say what those can be.

Dowden acknowledged that, on the other hand, folks need to educate warning on-line and in moderation buy into sage the privacy insurance policies of social media apps in identical old.

Responding to Dowden’s assertion in the Commons, Labour deputy chief and shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Angela Rayner acknowledged: “Once again, the government is leisurely to the game. In August final year, Parliament closed its TikTok sage and…in December the US banned TikTok from authentic devices, and nearly a month previously the European Rate followed swimsuit.

“But on 28 February, the secretary of order for science and innovation [Michelle Donelan] acknowledged the app used to be a matter of private preference. She acknowledged that we had no proof and that a ban would be very forthright.

“It’s the identical sample over and once again. A government in the support of the curve with sticking plaster alternate choices compelled to lurch staunch into a U-flip at the final minute. We desire a mighty, definite-eyed, fixed methodology…that ensures that we’re going to have the opportunity to shield our national security and put us in a mighty living to spend with states such as China where it is in our hobby to enact so,” acknowledged Rayner.

Rayner went on to ask why the ban didn’t skedaddle further and most effective applied to devices owned by central government.

Rashik Parmar, neighborhood chief government of BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, acknowledged that national security considerations spherical TikTok for politicians and government workers accept as true with been famous and a ban life like, nonetheless that the data of particular particular person formative years used to be potentially no longer of powerful anguish to the Chinese government.

“It is low-tag to inquire of that social media linked to a non-allied order need to no longer ever be on the devices of government officials. Building public belief in technology is key at the moment, when the apps we use on each day foundation are so carefully linked to geopolitics,” he acknowledged.

Lisa Forte of Red Goat Cyber, who sits on BCS’ Recordsdata Safety specialist neighborhood, added: “The ByteDance [TikTok’s owner] policy of harvesting the data you determine into the app – private facts, or metadata embedded in videos – is essential for groups of oldsters entrusted with sensitive information on a legitimate foundation.

“The people that ought to be eager are politicians, government civil servants, CEOs of tech corporations that generate an total bunch psychological property [IP], or journalists. So it is genuine for the UK to survey to limit or restrict certain groups having the app on their work telephones, as other worldwide locations are doing,” she acknowledged.

“The particular particular person risk to a random UK teenager is slight; the chance to the habitual particular person lies no longer in the data harvesting – which is no longer queer to TikTok anyway – nonetheless more in the manipulation of the algorithm to formative years in the UK search for certain kinds of affirm material. There are options that in China the algorithm prioritises academic affirm material whereas in Europe it prioritises dance videos and polarising cloth.”

Computer Weekly reached out to TikTok nonetheless had no longer received a response at the time of writing. The corporate has previously acknowledged that a ban would be “disappointing”, whereas the Chinese government has accused the West of being paranoid over its use.

Read more on Privateness and information protection

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