LONDON – The European Union’s executive branch said on Thursday it has temporarily banned TikTok from phones used by staff as a cyber security measure, prompting concern from Western authorities over the Chinese-owned video sharing app. it shows.
In a first for the European Commission, its corporate management board suspended the use of TikTok on devices issued to employees or personal devices used by employees for work.
TikTok is facing intense scrutiny from Europe and the US over security and data privacy, amid concerns that the hugely popular app could be used to promote pro-Beijing views or sweep up users’ information. It comes as China and the West are locked in a wide-ranging tug of war over technology ranging from spy balloons to computer chips.
The EU action follows similar moves in the US, where more than half of states and Congress have banned TikTok from official government tools.
Commission spokeswoman Sonya Gospodinova told a press briefing in Brussels, “The reason for taking this decision … is to enhance the cyber security of the Commission.” “In addition, the measure aims to protect the Commission against cyber security threats and actions that could be exploited for cyber attacks against the Commission’s corporate environment.”
TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Commission spokespeople declined to say whether any specific reason led to the suspension or what was needed to lift it.
EU representatives said employees would be required by March 15 to delete TikTok from personal devices they use for professional business, but gave no details on how this would be enforced.
In Norway, which is not a member of the 27-nation European Union, the justice minister was forced to apologize this month after she failed to disclose that she had installed TikTok on her government-issued phone.
TikTok is also under pressure from the European Union to comply with upcoming new digital rules aimed at getting big online platforms to clean up toxic and illegal content with the bloc’s stricter data privacy rules.
The company has said it plans to open two more European data centers to address data privacy concerns.