The Belgian government bans TikTok on official phones

BRUSSELS: Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Picture) On Friday, federal officials banned TikTok from being used on their work phones, making his country the latest to take action against the Chinese app.

A number of national governments in Europe have already restricted TikTok for government employees over concerns that authorities in Beijing could use the video-sharing network to access sensitive user data.

European Union government institutions have also been urging employees in recent weeks to remove the app from smartphones and laptops used for work purposes.

“We shouldn’t be naive: TikTok is a Chinese company that is currently obligated to cooperate with the Chinese intelligence agencies,” De Croo said.

“That’s the reality.”

A spokesman for TikTok said on Friday: “We are disappointed with this suspension based on fundamental misinformation about our company.

“TikTok is not a Chinese company. Our parent company is also incorporated outside of China and majority owned by global institutional investors.”

Its user data is not stored in China, the spokesman added.

“The Chinese government cannot compel another sovereign nation to provide data stored on that nation’s territory.

“We stand ready to meet with officials to address concerns and correct misunderstandings.”

The Belgian move – which is in place for a preliminary six months – follows a risk assessment on potential espionage by the country’s cybersecurity and intelligence services.

It does not cover use of the video-sharing app on the personal phones of officials, ministers or legislators.

Western powers, including the European Union and the United States, are increasingly cracking down on the app, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance.

TikTok launched a fresh push on Wednesday to allay European security concerns, saying it is working with a third-party European security firm to monitor and audit data handling.

TikTok says its European user data will be stored in two centers in Dublin and one in Norway from 2023. –AFP The Belgian government bans TikTok on official phones

Russell Falcon

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