After initially resisting calls to ban TikTok from authorities gadgets, the UK Authorities has now modified course, and introduced an instantaneous ban of the Chinese language-owned app on all Authorities worker telephones.
The announcement brings TikTok into line with the EU, which enacted a ban of TikTok on Authorities gadgets last month, whereas the vast majority of US states have now additionally banned the app from Government-owned phones.
As reported by The Guardian:
“The UK determination follows a overview of TikTok by authorities cybersecurity consultants that started in November, and can cowl ministers’ and civil servants’ work telephones, however not their private telephones. [Cabinet Office Minister Oliver Dowden says] this can be a ‘proportionate transfer based mostly on a selected threat with authorities gadgets’.”
Amid rising world tensions, considerations across the Chinese language-owned app, and the potential for it for use as a spying system, have grow to be extra urgent, with many cybersecurity consultants warning that TikTok could possibly be used to trace citizen actions, and monitor consumer exercise.
And people experiences do have precedent.
Late final yr, it was revealed that representatives from TikTok’s dad or mum firm ByteDance had used TikTok knowledge to track the movements of US journalists, in a bid to uncover which ByteDance staff could also be leaking information to the press.
That is the important thing concern across the misuse of TikTok knowledge, and on this context, the expanding bans of the app on government-owned devices is sensible, as that could possibly be used as a vector to trace individuals’s actions, and monitor who they’re assembly with.
For presidency staff, who could also be in possession of delicate data, there’s a stage of threat right here, so it does make sense for officers to be elevating the alarm, and taking motion on this circumstance.
The query then is whether or not the TikTok bans ought to be expanded to all customers, as is at the moment into consideration within the US. The newest on that entrance is that the White Home is reportedly pressuring TikTok to be sold off from its Chinese owners if it needs to maintain working within the area.
That’s nearly precisely what former President Donald Trump proposed back in 2020, which practically noticed TikTok offered to a consortium led by Oracle, earlier than the incoming Biden Administration abandoned those plans.
Now, it appears TikTok is being pressured to re-examine related choices – although it’s price noting that any sale of TikTok, as a Chinese language asset, would additionally require approval from the Chinese language Authorities, which has repeatedly expressed its disapproval of the assorted bans of the app.
TikTok, too, continues to voice its opposition to those actions. On the UK ban, a TikTok spokesperson said:
“We imagine these bans have been based mostly on elementary misconceptions and pushed by wider geopolitics, wherein TikTok, and our tens of millions of customers within the UK, play no half. We stay dedicated to working with the federal government to deal with any considerations.”
Which, after all, is the response you would possibly anticipate, however it’s attention-grabbing to see TikTok making reference to geopolitical tensions, and invoking nationalistic fears, as a way to oppose the increasing bans.
Look, proper now, there doesn’t appear to be a transparent case for a full TikTok ban, as there wasn’t when the US initially proposed a ban below Trump in 2020. However that doesn’t imply that it received’t occur – and actually, it looks like we’re very, very near the sting on this, amid accusations of spying and worldwide interference on a number of fronts.
The proposal to power TikTok right into a sell-off, if the US Authorities does press this, may doubtlessly safe billions in income for the corporate, and that looks like an excessive amount of to go away behind for TikTok, if it comes right down to it.
However once more, the Chinese language Authorities might look to make an announcement as a substitute, and resist western bullying.
In essence, it seemingly will come right down to geopolitical tensions, a technique or one other, and people tensions do appear to be sporting skinny proper now.