Security experts and tech watchers say the UK government’s ban on TikTok on official devices is “irrational” and nothing more than geopolitics.
Cabinet Office Minister Oliver Dowden announced Thursday that the House of Commons will ban the use of short-form video apps on official government devices. This comes after the US reportedly told ByteDance that the Chinese owner of his TikTok would have to sell his stake in the company or face a domestic ban. is.
Dowden said the UK ban was “a commensurate move based on the specific risks associated with government devices”.
Similar bans on staff devices have also been announced by the European Commission, Canada, and the United States. Many states in the US have also banned employees from using her TikTok on work-issued devices.
But the ban appears to be motivated by something other than security risks, experts in the field say.
As Heather Burns, author of the book, puts it: About Privacy Technology policy expert for over 20 years.
Burns said I TikTok is a drop in the ocean compared to typical Big Tech data collection practices. It means we have tens of thousands of active surveillance trackers on our devices and home devices.”
TikTok, which has offices in London and Dublin and the United States, was originally developed by Beijing-based company ByteDance. The company is based in the Cayman Islands.
A study published earlier this year by the Georgia Tech Internet Governance Project found no evidence of the security risks TikTok poses. Robyn Caplan, a senior research fellow at US tech nonprofit Data & Society, said: I Anything that has opened the door to a nationwide ban is a matter of concern.
Caplan noted that the government’s ban on the device could appear to be “slightly proportionate to concerns arising from discoveries about TikTok employees tracking journalists.” At the beginning of , it was revealed that TikTok employees used the app to track journalists. The company claims this is the behavior of a small number of dishonest employees. “The rest just don’t seem proportionate,” Kaplan said.
Other experts have questioned how much information TikTok can collect from its users, even though it may provide data to the Chinese state.
Shiva Vaidyanathan, a Robertson professor of media studies at the University of Virginia, said, “I don’t know if government devices matter to TikTok or anyone else. Data experts previously said TikTok was banned outright. If the Chinese government wanted to obtain information about Western social media users, they could buy access to information collected through other U.S.-based apps through a number of data brokers. was
Vaidhyanathan also points out that the number of government devices is negligible compared to TikTok’s expanding user base. This would be a real security risk if China wants access to its users. has billions of users and that number continues to grow,” said Vaidhyanathan. “No one is banning TikTok from personal devices, and that’s what matters.”
A TikTok spokesperson said: “We are disappointed with this decision. We believe these bans are based on a fundamental misunderstanding and are driven by broader geopolitics that TikTok and its millions of users in the UK are not involved with. We remain committed to working with governments to address concerns, but we should be judged on the facts and treated on a par with our competitors.
“We have begun implementing a comprehensive plan to further protect European user data, including storing UK user data in European data centers and strengthening data access controls. This includes third-party independent oversight of our approach.”
The National Cyber Security Center and the Cabinet Office have repeatedly declined to comment on potential bans on TikTok. declined to answer questions about whether it was unsafe for use by
But for some, the decision came as no surprise. “We have seen this develop in different jurisdictions over time,” said Dom Hallas, a policy maker at British tech startups who is an executive at Coadec and his director. I’m here. “The reality is that we trust security services to do the assessment. I’m not involved with the evidence they have available.”
Harras said I The decision may not be based solely on live concerns about TikTok, but may be part of a broader recalculation of Chinese technology and its role in our society.