The EU Commission bans employees from using TikTok, citing security risks

Xu Ziqiu, CEO of TikTok Inc. , during the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore, on Wednesday, November 16, 2022.

Brian Van Der Beek | bloomberg | Getty Images

The European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, has banned its employees from using TikTok on their smartphones amid concerns from Western governments about risks the platform could pose to national security.

The commission said employees will no longer be able to install the Chinese-owned app on corporate and personal devices, citing concerns about how it handles user data.

The Commission said in a statement published Thursday: “This measure aims to protect the Commission from cybersecurity threats and procedures that may be exploited in electronic attacks against the environment of companies affiliated with the Commission.”

“Security developments for other social media platforms will remain under constant review,” it added.

The move highlights the more aggressive tone Europe has taken recently with regard to TikTok, which has long evaded regulatory scrutiny in the bloc. US lawmakers voted to ban the app in December, and some have called for the service to be banned across the country.

Western officials are concerned about the potential influence of the Chinese government on TikTok — particularly the risk that it could enable Beijing to spy on citizens. TikTok admitted Data on its European users can be accessed by employees based in China, but it denies that it would share such information with the Chinese government.

Last month, EU Commissioner Thierry Breton warned that the app could face a potential ban if it fails to comply with the upcoming Digital Services Act, which this summer will impose sweeping requirements on TikTok, Twitter and several other platforms to remove illegal content, curb misinformation, and protect Best for minors.

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“The European Commission’s suspension of TikTok on corporate devices is misleading and based on fundamental misconceptions,” TikTok’s head of public policy, Caroline Greer, said on Twitter. “We have requested a meeting to set the record straight.”

“We continue to strengthen our approach to data security – establishing three data centers in Europe to store user data locally; further reducing employee access to data; and reducing data flow outside of Europe.”

TikTok is no longer a giant on the scale of companies like Meta, Alphabet, and Amazon when it comes to social media, advertising, and e-commerce. But its rise in the region should not be underestimated. The platform now has 150 million users in Europe, according to a company statement last week.

TikTok, which employs 5,000 people in Europe, has sought to allay regulators’ concerns by outlining plans to migrate European users’ information to data centers under development in Ireland. Last week, the company announced that it would open a third data center in the country.

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