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Security minister asks cyber experts to investigate TikTok


Home Office Minister Tom Tugendhat has asked government cyber-security experts to look at the risks posed by TikTok.

The minister didn’t rule out a ban on the Chinese-owned social media app, telling Times Radio he would wait for evidence before reaching a decision.

It comes one day after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the UK would look at what the US, the EU and Canada had done in banning TikTok on government phones.

TikTok has faced allegations it hands users’ data to the Chinese government.

The company maintains it operates no differently from other social media companies.

Speaking to Times Radio, Mr Tugendhat said: “We need to make sure our phones are not spyware.”

“Understanding the challenges these apps pose, what they are asking for and how they reach into our lives, is incredibly important.

“That is why I have asked the National Cyber Security Centre to look into this.”

Asked on Monday if the UK would ban TikTok from government phones and devices, Mr Sunak said: “We take the security of devices seriously and we look also at what our allies are doing.”

The prime minister’s deputy spokesman said government departments had “robust procedures” to ensure cyber-security.

Last month, the European Commission ordered its 32,000 staff to remove the TikTok app from devices as soon as possible – and no later than 15 March.

In March, the White House gave US government agency staff 30 days to remove the platform from their work devices.

President Donald Trump attempted to introduce an outright ban, but it was later blocked in the courts.

China “represents a challenge to the world order”, the PM says.


The Indian government was more successful, managing to ban 59 Chinese-made apps in 2020, including TikTok.

Like most other social media companies, TikTok collects huge amounts of data on its users, such as their location and what other apps they have.

However, because TikTok is owned by the Beijing-based tech company ByteDance, there have been concerns it could pass information on to the Chinese government.

China’s National Intelligence Law says all Chinese organisations should “support, assist and co-operate” with the government’s intelligence efforts.

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology say the law also includes protections for the rights of users, and TikTok says Chinese staff cannot access the data of non-Chinese users.

However, in December it emerged that several ByteDance employees had access to at least two US journalists’ data and a “small number” of others, to track their locations and check whether they were meeting TikTok employees suspected of leaking information to the media.

TikTok says the employees who accessed the information were later dismissed.

Source: BBC

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