The European Commission on Thursday February 22, banned TikTok on official devices over cybersecurity concerns, but the Chinese social media giant tagged the move as ‘misguided’.
TikTok, whose parent company ByteDance is Chinese, has faced increasing Western scrutiny over fears about how much access Beijing has to user data.
The new ban also means European Commission staff cannot use the video-sharing app on personal devices including phones that have official EU communication apps installed – as the EU seeks to bolster its cybersecurity.
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An email to that effect was sent to employees ordering them to delete the app from all work phones and devices, and any personally owned ones that use the commission’s apps and email. Employees have until 15 March to comply.
EU spokeswoman Sonya Gospodinova said the corporate management board of the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, had made the decision for security reasons.
“The measure aims to protect the Commission against cybersecurity threats and actions which may be exploited for cyberattacks against the corporate environment of the commission,” she said.
There was no immediate comment on whether other EU institutions such as the European Council, which represents member states, or the European Parliament would take similar measures.
After the news was made public, EU industry commissioner Thierry Breton pointed to the cybersecurity risks he said had informed the decision.
“As an institution, the European Commission has, from the beginning of the mandate, a very strong focus on cybersecurity, protecting our colleagues and, of course, everyone who is working here in the Commission,” Breton told reporters.
A spokesperson for TikTok said it was “disappointed with this decision, which is believe to be misguided and based on fundamental misconceptions”.
“We are disappointed with this decision, which we believe to be misguided and based on fundamental misconceptions,” said a spokesperson for TikTok. “We have contacted the commission to set the record straight and explain how we protect the data of the 125 million people across the EU who come to TikTok every month.”
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