European Commission bans staff from using TikTok on work devices

The European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, has banned its staff from using the ByteDance-owned video app on their work phones over cyber security concerns.

The EC noted in a statement on Thursday (February 23) that its Corporate Management Board “has decided to suspend the use of the TikTok application on its corporate devices and on personal devices enrolled in the Commission mobile device service”.

It explained the aim of the measure is “to protect the Commission against cybersecurity threats and actions which may be exploited for cyber-attacks against the corporate environment of the Commission”.

It added that the security developments of other social media platforms will also be kept under constant review.

The move from the EC comes just a week after TikTok announced that it has amassed over 150 million users across Europe and is planning to add two more data centers in the region.

TikTok’s user number disclosure for Europe followed a deadline imposed by the EC for social media companies and search engines to publish their monthly active users.

The platform also said in a press release last Friday (February 17) that its investments in Europe saw the creation of over 5,000 jobs across Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

Addressing data security concerns in Europe in that same announcement, TikTok said last week that it “remain[s] focused on building trust with our community by demonstrating to them that their data is secure”.

It added: “We’re continuing to deliver against the data governance strategy we set out for Europe last year, which includes further reducing employee access to European user data; minimising data flows outside of Europe; and storing European user data locally.”

The EC noted elsewhere in its statement on Thursday that its suspension of TikTok from staff devices “is in line with Commission strict internal cybersecurity policies for use of mobile devices for work-related communications”.

It added: “It complements long-standing Commission advice to staff to apply best practices when using social media platforms and keep high-level of cyber awareness in their daily work.

“The Commission is committed to ensuring that its staff is well protected against increasing cyber threats and incidents. It is, therefore, our duty to respond as early as possible to potential cyber alerts.

“Today’s suspension is an internal corporate decision which is strictly limited to the use of devices enrolled in its mobile service.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, you might remember that three years ago, then-President Donald Trump wanted to ban TikTok in the United States, citing data security privacy concerns. He also raised suspicion over TikTok and its parent company ByteDance’s relationship with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Today, Presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis, currently governor of Florida, recently announced a proposal that would block state and local government devices (including those operated by students attending a public school or state university) from being able to access TikTok, reportedly citing concerns about the app’s ties to the Chinese government.

Back in September 2020, when the prospect of a temporary US ban of TikTok from the Trump administration was becoming headline news, the app’s then-interim head (now COO), Vanessa Pappas estimated that if a US ban of TikTok was in place for six months, over 80% of its daily users would not return to the platform.

That devastating prediction was based on TikTok’s real-life experience of being banned for a fortnight by the Indian government in 2019, according to Reuters.Music Business Worldwide

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