UK Joins Other Countries in Banning TikTok From Government Devices

The UK has joined other EU countries in banning social media app TikTok from government devices. Cabinet Office Ministers reported a security review which looked at the potential vulnerability of government data from social media apps on devices and risks around how sensitive information could be accessed and used by some platforms.

TikTok is known around the world as a video sharing platform with over 1 billion monthly active users. Allowing users to create, discover and share videos across the community. TikTok requires device owners to give permission to access data from the device, including contacts, content and location data.

Given the potentially sensitive nature of information which is stored on government devices, government policy on the management of third party applications will be strengthened and a precautionary ban on TikTok on government devices is being introduced.

Currently, there is limited use of TikTok within government and limited need for government staff to use the app on work devices.This decision is in line with similar restrictions brought in by key international partners, including the US and Canadian governments, and the European Commission.

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Oliver Dowden said, “the security of sensitive government information must come first, so today we are banning this app on government devices. The use of other data-extracting apps will be kept under review.Restricting the use of TikTok on Government devices is a prudent and proportionate step following advice from our cybersecurity experts.”

TikTok requires users to give permission for the app to access data stored on the device, which is then collected and stored by the company. Allowing such permissions gives the company access to a range of data on the device, including contacts, user content, and geolocation data.

The government, along with international partners, is concerned about the way in which this data may be used. However, the report states that ‘the ban does not extend to personal devices’ for everyone involved in the government relations.

Specific exemptions for the use of TikTok on government devices are being put in place where required for work purposes. Exemptions will only be granted by security teams on a case-by-case basis, with ministerial clearance as appropriate, and with security mitigations put in place.

These exemptions will cover areas such as individuals working in relevant enforcement roles, or for example for the purposes of work on online harms.

Source: GOV.UK


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