TikTok banned by Greater London Authority and across Westminster

Defence and security Policy & Politics Technology Westminster

The Greater London Authority (GLA) has become the latest UK organisation to block staff from having TikTok on their devices.

Security concerns over the Chinese social media app are being taken “extremely seriously” said the GLA which follows the UK government’s lead in banning ministers from having TikTok on their work phones this week.

Both the House of Commons and Lords cited security concerns to justify their decision to block staff using the app across Westminster.

The Scottish government is also introducing a TikTok ban on official devices, justifying the decision by citing “the potential tracking and privacy risks from certain social media apps”.

Explaining their move, a spokesperson for the GLA said the authority “takes information security extremely seriously”, adding: “In line with the Government’s decision, TikTok will no longer be available on GLA devices.”

Westminster announced its ban on Thursday, extending the move taken by the UK government a week earlier to ban the app on all government mobile phones and devices.

It means the app will be blocked even on personal devices connected to parliament’s wifi.

Cybersecurity is a top priority for parliament. However we do not comment on specific details of our cyber or physical security controls, policies or incidents,” a Westminster spokesperson said on Thursday.

Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden called the TikTok ban “good cyber hygiene” amid risks to “sensitive government data”.

“The security of sensitive government information must come first, so today we are banning this app on government devices. The use of other data-extracting apps will be kept under review,” said Dowden.

However, not everyone in the government shares the same concerns. Energy security secretary Grant Shapps emphatically declared he will continue to use TikTok on his personal device after the government announced its ban.

Shapps took to the social media platform and stated he would “NOT be leaving anytime soon”, posting a clip from the Wolf of Wall Street to underline his decision. In the video. Leonardo diCaprio’s character exclaims, “I’m not fucking leaving”.

The UK bans follow similar moves taken in Belgium, Canada, the US, Taiwan, Norway, New Zealand, Denmark and the Netherlands, while the EU has also banned TikTok on all staff devices.

The Chinese embassy in London said the UK ban is “based on its political motive rather than facts” and added it will “ultimately harms the UK’s own interests”.

A spokesperson for TikTok said the “bans are based on fundamental misconceptions and driven by wider geopolitics.”

Regarding London City Hall’s ban, the spokesperson continued: “We are readily available to meet with the [London} Mayor to address any concerns but should be judged on facts and treated equally to our competitors.

“We have begun implementing a comprehensive plan to further protect our European user data, which includes storing UK user data in our European data centres and tightening data access controls, including third-party independent oversight of our approach.”

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