In this photo illustration the logo of Chinese online social media and video hosting service TikTok is displayed on a smartphone screen alongside that of that of YouTube, instant messaging software Whatsapp Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Quora, Facebook Messenger and Snapchat.

TikTok Banned From UK Government Phones

Over concerns about a lack of transparency about how user data is handled, the U.K. government has banned TikTok from phones that government officials use for work.

Recommended Videos

In a statement to parliament, Oliver Dowden, Cabinet Office Minister said, according to Sky News, “This ban applies to government corporate devices within ministerial and non-ministerial departments, but it will not extend to personal devices for government employees or ministers or the general public. That is because, as I have outlined, this is a proportionate move based on a specific risk with government devices.”

Despite the narrow scope of the ban, even for government officials, the ban hasn’t gone down well, either with the app’s fans or its parent company, ByteDance. Sky reports that a spokesperson for the company said, “We believe these bans have been based on fundamental misconceptions and driven by wider geopolitics, in which TikTok, and our millions of users in the UK, play no part.

“We remain committed to working with the government to address any concerns but should be judged on facts and treated equally to our competitors.

“We have begun implementing a comprehensive plan to further protect our European user data, which includes storing UK user data in our European data centres and tightening data access controls, including third-party independent oversight of our approach.”

However, the U.K., which has deleted its government account, isn’t the only country to prohibit TikTok. The U.S.’s federal government has banned the app from government devices, and the country is looking at imposing a full-on ban, not unlike the one that Donald Trump tried to pass when he was in the White House, despite Joe Biden revoking the ban after he became president.

On Wednesday (March 15), it was reported by The Wall Street Journal that Biden’s administration said that the app would cease use in the U.S. if stakeholders in China did not divest from the company. TikTok responded by saying, “The best way to address concerns about national security is with the transparent, US-based protection of US user data and systems, with robust third-party monitoring, vetting, and verification”, and China has accused the United States of “suppressing” the app.

Other countries that have banned the app on government work phones include Canada and New Zealand, as well as the European Parliament.

It was confirmed by TikTok itself late last year that the app’s employees had used data to track journalists and find out who their sources were. In response, a TikTok spokesperson said, “We take data security incredibly seriously, and we will continue to enhance our access protocols, which have already been significantly improved and hardened since this incident took place.” The employees involved were reportedly fired.

(featured image: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

The Mary Sue is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy
Image of Brooke Pollock
Brooke Pollock
Brooke Pollock is a UK-based entertainment journalist who talks incessantly about her thoughts on pop culture. She can often be found with her headphones on listening to an array of music, scrolling through social media, at the cinema with a large popcorn, or laying in bed as she binges the latest TV releases. She has almost a year of experience and her core beat is digital culture.