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POLITICO: European Commission staff banned from using TikTok

23-2-2023 |

The European Commission has banned staff from using the Chinese social media app TikTok over security concerns, in the latest example of growing strains between Beijing and the West.

Western governments are increasingly alarmed by evidence that Chinese technology companies assist the Communist Party and its intelligence services in gathering vast amounts of data all over the world — with a particular focus on high-value political and security targets.

A senior official told POLITICO that all staff were ordered on Thursday morning to remove TikTok from their official devices and that they must also remove the app from their personal devices if they have any work-related apps installed.

Alternatively, the staff members can delete work-related apps from their personal phones if they insist on keeping TikTok.

“To protect Commission’s data and increase its cybersecurity, the EC Corporate Management Board has decided to suspend the TikTok application on corporate devices and personal devices enrolled in the Commission mobile device service,” said the email sent to staff on Thursday morning.

Officials are required to uninstall the video-sharing app “at their earliest convenience” and before March 15.

“As of 15 March, devices with the app installed will be considered non-compliant with the corporate environment,” the email read.

The other institutions of the European Union, including the Council and the Parliament, are likely to follow up eventually with a ban on the Chinese app, although it may take much longer for the Parliament in particular to be able to implement such a policy.

TikTok admitted in early November that some of its China-based employees could access European TikTok user data.

In a bid to assuage fears, the company announced last week it was looking into keeping European users’ information in three data centers in Europe.