The European Commission is banning the use of TikTok on its corporate devices, the governing body announced on Thursday.
The decision is part of a push from the commission to “increase its cybersecurity,” a statement on the Commission’s website explained. The suspension of the controversial application will apply to all of the Commission’s corporate devices and to personal devices that are “enrolled in the Commission mobile device service.”
The move comes as Canadian MPs are set to probe security concerns about the popular social media application at a parliamentary committee.
The House of Commons ethics committee voted earlier this month to undertake a study into TikTok and other social media platforms’ use “of private information of Canadians for the objective of data harvesting.”
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It’s unclear when the study will begin, or whether the findings from the probe could influence whether Canadian institutions crack down on the application on official devices, as the European Commission just decided to do on Thursday.
In its reasoning for the decision, the European Commission cast the move as aiming “to protect the Commission against cybersecurity threats and actions which may be exploited for cyber-attacks against the corporate environment of the Commission.”
The statement went on to add that security developments of “other social media platforms” will also remain under “constant review.”
“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,” it said.
Why is TikTok a concern for some?
The crux of the concern comes down to TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance.
The company has faced criticism from those who warn the Chinese government could access user data, such as browsing history and location.
That’s because China has a law that requires private companies to cooperate with Beijing if asked.
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In a statement earlier this month following the ethics committee decision to launch its probe, a spokesperson for TikTok told Global News that “with success and growth comes scrutiny.”
“We are committed to not only meeting, but exceeding Canadians’ expectations when it comes to the security and privacy of their data,” the spokesperson said.
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The company continues to have a “constructive relationship” with the Canadian government, they added, and welcomes the opportunity to “engage with policymakers to demonstrate how we protect the security and privacy of Canadian users.”
“We welcome the opportunity to set the record straight regarding falsehoods about the integrity of the TikTok platform,” the spokesperson said.
The European Commission decision is the latest in a string of crackdowns on the use of the popular social media application.
The app has been banned in India, and the United States is currently considering legislation to ban TikTok amid fears it could be used to spy on Americans and censor content.
Congress also recently banned TikTok from most U.S. government-issued devices over bipartisan concerns about security, and the U.S. armed forces also have prohibited the app on military devices.
TikTok was the most-downloaded application in 2022, according to Forbes.
A survey conducted by Toronto Metropolitan University’s Social Media Lab, which was released in September, found that just 26 per cent of all Canadians currently use TikTok. However, 76 per cent of those aged 18-24 have an account on the platform, it revealed.
— With files from The Associated Press
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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