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European Parliament to ban TikTok from staff phones: EU official


The move comes a day after the US White House gave federal agencies 30 days to wipe TikTok from all government devices.

The European Parliament has decided to ban the Chinese short video sharing app TikTok from staff phones for security reasons, becoming the latest EU institution to do so after the European Commission and the European Council.

The planned ban will also apply to private devices with Parliament’s email and other network access installed, an EU official said on Tuesday, adding that the decision is expected to be announced soon.

Last week, the European Council, the main legislative arm of the EU, and the executive body of the European Commission banned their staff from installing TikTok on devices used for work, citing data protection concerns.

TikTok, whose parent company ByteDance is based in China, has faced increasing criticism from Western countries in recent months over fears over how much access Beijing has to user data.

The Danish parliament also announced on Tuesday that it had asked MPs and all staff to remove the video-sharing platform from mobile devices due to the “risk of espionage”.

US takes ‘critical step’

The steps by the European Parliament and the Danish Parliament come a day after the White House gave all federal agencies 30 days to wipe TikTok from all US government devices.

The U.S. Office of Management and Budget called the announced guidelines a “critical step forward in addressing the risks the app poses to sensitive government data.”

Some US agencies, including the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and State, have already introduced restrictions and the White House does not allow TikTok on its devices. The US guidelines called for the rest of the federal government to follow suit within 30 days.

Al Jazeera’s Rosiland Jordan, reporting from Washington, D.C., said there have long been concerns in the US capital over TikTok’s use and whether it is being used to spy on the country.

She said negotiations on regulating TikTok for the American public continued among American politicians.

“Both Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill are deeply concerned that the longer this goes on, the more vulnerable US users will be to attempts to steal their personal information,” Jordan said.

Chinese response

In response to the US move to ban TikTok, the Chinese government said the move exposed Washington’s own insecurities and was an abuse of state power.

The US government “has overextended the concept of national security and abused state power to suppress other countries’ businesses,” Mao Ning, spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, said at a daily briefing.

“How insecure can the US, the world’s largest superpower, be to be so afraid of a young person’s favorite app?”

TikTok says the concerns are fueled by misinformation and denies using the app to spy on Americans.

TikTok also last week accused the European Commission of not consulting it about the decision to ban staff phones on cybersecurity grounds.

Canada also announced a ban on TikTok on government-issued devices on Monday, saying it poses an “unacceptable” risk to privacy and security.

India and Taiwan recently decided to block TikTok from government devices as well.

Governments’ actions do not immediately affect members of the general public who use TikTok on private or corporate-owned devices.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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