The European Commission has banned TikTok from staff phones


BRUSSELS – The European Commission banned staff on Thursday from using the Chinese-owned social media app TikTok on their work devices due to security concerns, following similar measures in the United States and a growing standoff between China and the West.

Commission staff have been informed that they must remove TikTok from their official devices, as well as from personal devices with work-related apps installed. The decision will begin on March 15.

“This measure aims to protect the Commission against cybersecurity threats and actions that can be exploited for cyberattacks against the Commission’s corporate environment,” it said in a statement.

The US House blocked TikTok on official devices ahead of the government ban

The decision to restrict access to thousands of employees comes amid growing Western fears about Chinese technology, particularly the potential for Beijing to access user data or conduct operations. of influence.

In December, Congress banned the app from all federal devices, with more than two dozen states introducing similar bans. The Biden administration is also weighing new rules to limit TikTok and other apps that a foreign adversary could exploit to “steal or otherwise obtain data.”

Although Europe is generally less hawkish on TikTok, the commission’s decision could lead to moves from other EU institutions, although so far, no further bans have been announced.

It was unclear what prompted the commission’s decision and officials declined to comment Thursday on whether a specific incident led to the ban. Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said it was a corporate decision, not a regulatory measure.

In any case, “there are strong reasons,” he said.

TikTok is a private company with major Western investors and international offices, but its parent company, ByteDance, is based in Beijing. Lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic have expressed concern that the company’s ownership structure leaves it vulnerable to monitoring and censorship — charges that TikTok has tried to deny.

The CEO of TikTok has launched an aggressive push to prevent the popular app from being banned

In recent months, TikTok has tried to push back, launching a charm offensive in Europe and the United States in a bid to prevent broader restrictions.

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is expected to testify before Congress in March about privacy concerns and other issues.

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