France joins a growing list of states saying TikTok lacks cybersecurity and data protection.
France has banned the “recreational” use of TikTok, Twitter, Instagram and other apps on government employees’ phones over concerns about insufficient data security measures.
The ban takes effect immediately, the Ministry of Transformation of the Public Sector and the Public Prosecution Service wrote on Twitter on Friday.
“To ensure the cybersecurity of our administrations and officials, the government has decided to ban recreational applications such as TikTok on the professional phones of officials,” Stanislas Guerini said on Friday.
He added that several of France’s European and international partners have taken measures for several weeks to restrict or ban the downloading, installation or use of the China-owned TikTok app by their administrations.
Guerini said recreational applications do not have sufficient levels of cybersecurity and data protection to be deployed on government department equipment, adding that waivers may be granted for professional reasons, such as an administration’s institutional communications.
A range of governments and institutions have banned TikTok in recent weeks, including the White House, the UK Parliament, the Dutch and Belgian governments, the New Zealand Parliament, and the governments of Canada, India, Pakistan, Taiwan, and Jordan.
Concerns about TikTok’s perceived security risks have been particularly raised by US lawmakers and national security officials who say user data collected by the app could be accessible to the Chinese government.
Calls to ban TikTok from government devices gained momentum after FBI Director Christopher Wray said in November that it poses national security risks.
Late last month, the two largest policy-making institutions of the European Union – the Commission and the Council – banned TikTok from staff phones for cybersecurity reasons.
There has been global concern over the potential for the Chinese government to access users’ location and contact information through ByteDance, TikTok’s Chinese parent company.
The company’s CEO, Shou Zi Chew, countered claims that TikTok or ByteDance are tools of the Chinese government during questioning by US lawmakers on Thursday. The company reiterates that 60 percent of ByteDance is owned by global institutional investors.
A law China implemented in 2017 requires companies to provide the government with all personal data relevant to the country’s national security. There is no evidence that TikTok has transferred such data, but fears are high due to the sheer amount of user data it collects.
Beijing has accused Washington of spreading disinformation and suppressing TikTok.
Earlier this month, China’s foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said the US has yet to provide evidence that TikTok threatens its national security and used the excuse of data security to abuse its power to suppress foreign companies.