Minister Oliver Dowden said the UK government had now decided to ban the use of TikTok on government devices in the interests of “good cyber hygiene”.
This should come as no surprise. U.S. and European Commission A similar ban has already been imposed on Chinese social media apps.
Some cybersecurity analysts suggest Tik Tok Go harder than other popular social media apps to access our personal information.
It knows what other apps the phone is running, can access the device’s calendar, and checks your location hourly.
It is also believed that the app is more persistent than other apps in requesting access to your contacts on your phone, even if you deny it access initially.
But most experts agree that TikTok has no more voracious appetite for personal data than its competitors.
In fact, many are believed to collect and store more data about you than TikTok.
So why restrict TikTok on government devices and not all social media apps?
UK government bans TikTok from mobile phones
Where TikTok is restricted around the world
It’s more about our shift in position China.
This week’s comprehensive review update – updating the government’s defense and security priorities – identified China as an “epochal challenge”.
TikTok firmly rejects any suggestion that it is spying on its users. Like other social media developers, it contends that the information it collects is purely to enhance users’ experience on the app.
It noted that its operations in the U.S. and Europe are based in those countries, and that user data is kept on servers in the U.S. and Singapore.
One reason TikTok has received more attention than U.S. app developers is that the Chinese government has the legal right to access its data if it so chooses. Beijing’s law compels Chinese companies to share information when it is in China’s national security interests.
The company said the Chinese government was unable to request data it held on servers outside of China (TikTok itself does not operate in China) and had not received requests from the Chinese government to share the data.
The huge popularity of TikTok
Another factor in all of this is the incredible success of TikTok.
It’s the most popular app in the world among those under 25. TikTok has around 1 billion regular users; around 9 million of them are in the UK.
Attempts by Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to emulate its short-form video format have so far failed to match TikTok.
It’s unclear how much the ban on government devices would affect TikTok’s core user base. But it could deprive the government of a powerful tool to communicate with younger audiences.