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The administration is concerned that the Chinese government may gain access to private information stored on official phones.
A cabinet minister, Oliver Dowden said the ban was a “precautionary” measure but would go into action immediately.
Allegations that TikTok provides user data to the Chinese government have been categorically refuted.
According to Theo Bertram, the app’s vice president for government relations and public affairs in Europe, the decision was “more on geopolitics than anything else,” he told the BBC.
He said, “We requested to be assessed on the facts, not on people’s fears.
The Chinese embassy in London claimed the action was motivated by politics “rather than facts” and would “undermine the confidence of the world community in the UK’s economic environment”.
The public should always “examine each social media platform’s data policy before downloading and utilizing them,” Mr. Dowden said, adding that he would not advise against using TikTok.
Senior lawmakers had pressed Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to ban the video-sharing software from official government devices, much like the US and the EU had done.
Yet, government agencies, as well as specific ministers, have embraced TikTok as a means of reaching young people with their messages.
With 3.5 billion downloads worldwide, usage of the app has skyrocketed in recent years.
Its success stems from how simple it is to shoot quick videos with music and entertaining filters, as well as from its algorithm, which is adept at serving up content that users will find interesting.
It is able to do this because it gathers a lot of user information about them, including things like their age, location, device, and even typing habits, and because its cookies keep track of how they interact online.
US-based social media platforms also do this, but Byte Dance, the Chinese parent firm of TikTok, has come under fire for allegedly receiving influence from Beijing.
Downing Street announced that it would keep using TikTok to spread the government’s message after posting a TikTok video featuring Larry the Cat forecasting football results. It said that there were some instances where the ban was not applicable.
Despite the security warnings, some politicians are still hesitant to give up their TikTok habit.
Government minister Grant Shapps – an enthusiastic TikTokker – reacted to the ban by sharing a clip from the film, Wolf Of Wall Street, in which Leonardo DiCaprio, playing a New York stockbroker, uses a string of expletives and declares: “The show goes on”.
“I’ve never used TikTok on government devices, and I can hereby confirm I will NOT be quitting TikTok anytime soon,” Mr. Shapps said after calling the ban “reasonable.”
Ministers are only allowed to use the site on devices used for work; personal phones are not prohibited.
However, Nadine Dorries, who dabbled with TikTok videos when serving as culture secretary, announced that she would be removing the app from her own phone and suggested that all MPs do the same.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) posted a video of a Challenger 2 tank to its TikTok account hours before the ban was made public. This tank is one of the types being given to Ukraine.
In order to “advance the activities of the Military Forces and to communicate our support to Ukraine,” the MoD stated it will keep using the app. Sensitive information for the department is “kept on a separate system,” it was said.
- US threatening a ban, according to TikTok, if China’s investment is not sold.
- Government requests TikTok investigation from cyber experts
- TikTok users dismiss concerns about China, saying, “It’s hard to care.”
- Moreover, TikTok has been blocked from ministers’ and government employees’ work phones by the Welsh government.
Upon considering the need for additional action, the Scottish government was in contact with the Cabinet Office, according to a representative for the organization in Edinburgh.
The UK government’s decision, according to a statement from TikTok, was made based on “basic misconceptions,” the social media platform stated.
A spokesman added, “We should be judged on facts and treated equally to our competitors. We remain committed to working with the government to address any issues.