After initially resisting calls to ban TikTok from authorities units, 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 units final month, whereas the vast majority of US states have now additionally banned the app from Authorities-owned telephones.
As reported by The Guardian:
“The UK choice follows a evaluate 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] it is a ‘proportionate transfer primarily based on a particular threat with authorities units’.”
Amid rising world tensions, considerations across the Chinese language-owned app, and the potential for it for use as a spying gadget, have turn into extra urgent, with many cybersecurity consultants warning that TikTok might be used to trace citizen actions, and monitor person exercise.
And people studies do have precedent.
Late final 12 months, it was revealed that representatives from TikTok’s mum or dad firm ByteDance had used TikTok knowledge to observe the actions of US journalists, in a bid to uncover which ByteDance workers 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 increasing bans of the app on government-owned units is sensible, as that might be used as a vector to trace individuals’s actions, and monitor who they’re assembly with.
For presidency workers, who could also be in possession of delicate info, 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 present into account within the US. The most recent on that entrance is that the White Home is reportedly pressuring TikTok to be bought off from its Chinese language house owners if it needs to maintain working within the area.
That’s nearly precisely what former President Donald Trump proposed again in 2020, which almost noticed TikTok bought to a consortium led by Oracle, earlier than the incoming Biden Administration deserted these plans.
Now, it appears TikTok is being compelled to re-examine comparable choices – although it’s value 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 mentioned:
“We imagine these bans have been primarily based on elementary misconceptions and pushed by wider geopolitics, during which TikTok, and our hundreds of thousands of customers within the UK, play no half. We stay dedicated to working with the federal government to handle any considerations.”
Which, after all, is the response you would possibly anticipate, however it’s fascinating 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 gained’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, might probably safe billions in income for the corporate, and that looks like an excessive amount of to go away behind for TikTok, if it comes all the way down to it.
However once more, the Chinese language Authorities could look to make a press release as a substitute, and resist western bullying.
In essence, it seemingly will come all the way down to geopolitical tensions, a technique or one other, and people tensions do appear to be carrying skinny proper now.