The European Commission has temporarily banned the use of TikTok on employee mobile phones amid concerns over potential cyberattacks.
The European Commission, which draws up proposals for new European laws and manages EU policy, has suspended the use of Chinese-owned video-sharing apps on mobile phones issued to employees and personal devices used for work.
The move reflects Western officials’ growing concerns about the platform.
TikTok has come under increasing scrutiny in Europe and the United States over security and data privacy, amid concerns the app could be used to promote pro-Beijing views or collect user data.
“This decision was made … to strengthen the Commission’s cybersecurity,” said Commission spokeswoman Sonya Gospodinova.
“Furthermore, this measure is designed to protect the Commission from cybersecurity threats and acts that could be used in cyber-attacks against the Commission’s corporate environment.”
Employees have until March 15 to delete the app from their devices, but EU representatives did not say how that would be enforced for those who use their personal phones for work.
A committee spokesman declined to say whether specific incidents had triggered the ban, or what would be needed to lift it.
Meanwhile, TikTok, which has 125 million users across the 27 countries of the European Union, said it wanted to “set the record straight”.
Caroline Greer, the app’s Brussels-based public policy officer, said on Twitter that the suspension “was wrong and based on a fundamental misunderstanding.”
“We have requested a meeting to clarify the facts,” Ms. Greer said, adding that TikTok was “continuing to strengthen” its data security measures.
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This includes opening three European data centers and minimizing data centers outside Europe.
Before the most recent suspension by European Commission staff, the app was banned from government devices in more than half of U.S. states and Congress.
Meanwhile, in Norway, a non-EU member, the justice minister was forced to apologize for failing to disclose that she had installed TikTok on a government-issued phone.
TikTok has also come under further pressure from the European Union – as it wants the app to comply with new digital regulations.
It wants major online platforms to clean up harmful and illegal content and stricter data privacy rules.