The European Commission, the administrative arm of the EU, banned its workers from using TikTok on their smartphones amid interests from Western governments about the threats the platform may pose to public security.
The commission said staff would no longer be suitable to have the Chinese-owned app installed on corporate and personal devices, citing concerns over how it handles user data. “
This measure aims to safeguard the Commission against cybersecurity risks and conduct which may be exploited for cyber-attacks against the corporate environment of the Commission, ”the Commission said in a statement published Thursday.
The security developments of other social media platforms will also be kept under constant review, ” it added.
The move highlights the more aggressive tone Europe has taken recently with regard to TikTok, which for a long time has eschewed regulatory scrutiny in the bloc. legislators in theU.S. suggested to block the app in December and some are calling for the service to be banned nationwide.
Western officials are concerned about the possible influence of China’s government over TikTok — in particular the threat it may enable Beijing to spy on citizens. TikTok has admitted that data on its European users can be entered by workers based in China, but denies it would ever share such information with the Chinese government.
Last month, EU Commissioner Thierry Breton cautioned the app may face a possible ban if it fails to comply with its incoming Digital Services Act, which this summer will exact extended requirements on TikTok, Twitter and several other platforms to remove illegal content, curb disinformation, and better protect minors. “
The European Commission’s suspension of TikTok on corporate devices is misinformed and based on elementary misconceptions, ” Caroline Greer, head of public policy at TikTok, said on Twitter. “We’ve requested a meeting to set the record straight. ”
We’re continuing to enhance our approach to data security — establishing three data centres in Europe to store user data locally; further reducing
worker access to data; and minimising data flows outside of Europe.
TikTok isn’t yet a colossus at 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 shouldn’t be undervalued. 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 palliate regulators ’concerns by outlining plans to migrate European users ’ information to data centers in development in Ireland. Last week, the company enunciated it would open a third data center in the country.