Government phones cannot be used by UK ministers with Chinese-owned apps

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The government fears the Chinese government can access sensitive data on official phones.

The ban was described as a precautionary measure by Cabinet Minister Oliver Dowden” step but would take effect immediately.

TikTok has vehemently denied allegations that it handed over users’ data to the Chinese government.

The App has a Vice President of Government Relations and Public Policy in Europe. Theo Bertram told the BBC they believed the decision was made mainly for geopolitical reasons rather than other factors.”.

“We ask to judge based on reality, not people’s fears,” he added.

The Chinese embassy in London criticized the decision, stating it was politically motivated and lacked factual basis. They also expressed concern that this move may negatively impact the international community’s trust in the UK’s business environment.

Mr Dowden stated that he does not recommend advising the public against TikTok, but they should always “consider the data policies of each social media platform before downloading and using”.

Senior MPs have pressured Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to follow the US and EU in banning the video-sharing App from official government devices.

Government departments and individual ministers have been using TikTok as a platform to effectively communicate their messages to the younger audience of young people.

The App’s usage has exploded recently, with over 3.5 billion downloads worldwide.

The App’s popularity is due to its simplicity in creating short videos with entertaining filters and music and its algorithms that serve up videos that appeal to individual users.

It can do this because it collects much information about users – including their age, location, device and even their typing rhythm – while its cookies track their activity elsewhere on the Internet.

US-based social media sites do as well; however, ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of TikTok, has been accused of being influenced by Beijing.

Downing Street – which posted a TikTok video of Larry the Cat predicting the latest football result – It was stated that the usage of TikTok will persist to achieve the desired outcome messages from the government. It said there were exemptions from the ban in certain circumstances.

Some politicians are reluctant to give up the TikTok habit despite security warnings.

Grant Shapps, a cabinet minister who enjoys using TikTok, reacted to the ban by sharing a video clip from the movie “Wolf of Wall Street”. In the clip, Leonardo DiCaprio, portraying a New York stockbroker, uses strong language and says, “The show’s on”.

Mr Shapps praised the ban as “sensible” but clarified that he has never used TikTok on official devices and has no intention of doing so in the future.

Ministers were not banned from using the site on their phones – only on their work devices.

Nadine Dorries, who had used TikTok videos during her time as culture secretary, recently stated that she would remove the App from her phone. Furthermore, she expressed her belief that all Members of Parliament should follow suit.

The Ministry announced the ban just a few hours ago; the defence (MoD) uploaded a video of a Challenger 2 tank delivered to Ukraine on its TikTok account.

According to the MoD, they will keep using the App to showcase the armed forces’ efforts and Communicate our support to Ukraine”. The department’s sensitive data is “kept in a separate system”, it adds.

TikTok threatened US sanctions if it did not sell its Chinese shares.
The minister has asked cyber experts to investigate TikTok
TikTok users shrug off China fears: ‘It’s difficult to care.’

The Welsh government also banned TikTok from the work phones of ministers and civil servants.

In Edinburgh, a Scottish Government spokeswoman said officials were in contact with the Cabinet Office “as we consider the need for further action”.

But MSPs and staff working in the Scottish Parliament were “strongly advised” by Holyrood officials to remove the App from their devices.

Officials at Holyrood said the advice was prudent but necessary for safety reasons.

In a statement Thursday, TikTok said the UK government’s decision was based on a “fundamental misconception.”

“Our commitment to resolving any concerns with the government remains steadfast must judge based on facts and treat our competitors equally,” added a spokesperson.

A handful of Western journalists have reportedly been tracked by ByteDance employees. ByteDance says that they have been fired.

US TikTok shared a video criticizing the Chinese government’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims, which has been taken down. TikTok says this was a mistake.

This has added to the nervousness of the government and security experts – despite the firm’s consistent denials.

The Chinese state demands obedience from all businesses based in the country, and no one knows how much pressure ByteDance can be put under to comply with data demands.

The United States banned TikTok from government devices in December, and the European Commission followed suit last month. Canada, Belgium and India took similar steps.

On Friday, New Zealand also imposed a ban on government devices.
The United States has been accused of spreading something by China. False information and cracking down on TikTok amid reports that the White House wants to sell its stake in the firm to its Chinese owners.

TikTok maintains that it does not share user data with Chinese authorities, but Chinese intelligence laws require companies to help the Communist Party when requested.

China blocks Western social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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Marta Lopez

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By Marta Lopez

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