The European Commission Thursday banned the use of TikTok, a video-sharing app owned by the Beijing-headquartered ByteDance, on all official devices used by staff. Commission personnel also cannot use the app on personal devices that have corporate apps downloaded on them, such as Commission email or Skype. The Commission maintains that the ban is a protective measure against cybersecurity threats.The Commission implemented the measure over data protection concerns regarding the TikTok app. These concerns are shared globally and have been mounting in recent times. In September 2021, the Irish Data Protection Commission launched an investigation into whether Tiktok was complying with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The investigation pertained to TikTok’s transfer of data to China and the processing of childrens’ personal data. In November 2022, TikTok disclosed that some of its China-based personnel could access European TikTok user data. Furthermore, a Forbes magazine report from December 2022 revealed that TikTok employees had been monitoring journalists’ physical location using their IP addresses.On the back of these cybersecurity concerns, the US federal government, the US Army and a number of US state governments have similarly banned TikTok from official devices. No European government has yet to follow the US example. However, in November 2022 the Dutch general affairs ministry recommended the suspension of TikTok for government officials pending an adjustment of the app’s data protection policy.In a statement to EURACTIV, a TikTok spokesperson said “We are disappointed with this decision, which we believe to be misguided and based on fundamental misconceptions. We have contacted the Commission to set the record straight and explain how we protect the data of the 125 million people across the EU who come to TikTok every month.”This move by the Commission may encourage EU countries to enact similar measures. It is expected that the EU Council will issue an equivalent TikTok suspension in the near future.

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