The UK Parliament has closed down its TikTok account after MPs raised concerns about the risk of data being passed to the Chinese government. The account has been locked, and content deleted, days after its launch. Senior MPs and peers had called for the account to be removed until TikTok gave “credible assurances” no data could be handed to China. TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, which has denied it was controlled by the Chinese government. Relations between London and Beijing have been fraught in recent years, with tensions heightened by China’s sanctioning of several MPs last year. “Based on member feedback, we are closing the pilot UK Parliament TikTok account earlier than we had planned,” a UK Parliament spokesman said.
More information: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-62410234
TikTok maintains that users outside of China have their data stored outside of China, but a recent Buzzfeed report revealed that Bytedance employees in China can still access user data stored outside of the country. I think this story likely fueled the push for Parliament to drop TikTok. Although we haven’t seen any evidence that TikTok spies on users on behalf of authorities in China, it’s reasonable for a high-profile government body to stop using it due to security and privacy concerns.
Security observers have long been concerned about the amount of personal and corporate data that may be gleaned by the TikTok app. The U.S. government expressed concerns about the app in recent years. Until we can confirm just how much data China is receiving from the app, governments and organisations around the globe should be very careful in how much access to TikTok they give to employees.