EU Ban TikTok


We follow all things social media very closely at Valkyrie especially in regard to security and privacy. In early January we posted an article about the growing concerns in regard to TikTok (TT), which is owned by Chinese firm ByteDance, and whether China’s govt could harvest users’ data. In that article we highlighted that several US govt dept’s had banned the use of the app on official work devices due to security concerns.

As of the 20th of March the European Parliament (EP) will become the latest notable official entity to ban TT, following in the footsteps of the European-Commission and EU-Council underlining the mounting unease over the app and who accesses its user data. The EP ban will apply to corporate devices (mobiles/tablets) which are enrolled in Parliament’s mobile management application. The assembly also recommended lawmakers/staff remove the app from their personal devices.

The area of most concern within Valkyrie is the privacy element. As we have stated previously, it is a fundamental choice that everyone has the right to privacy. However, TT collecting and ‘potentially’ sharing user data with the Chinese govt leads to potential breaches of privacy and security, as well as other concerns such as misinformation and censorship.

A key question here is, if governments are concerned about TT, should individuals and org’s also be worried? Your data, which includes contacts, telephone numbers, and email addresses, could all be accessed by this app.  Yes, clearly there’s a difference between using the app on an official device and accessing confidential info compared to a private account and sharing videos for fun. However, with the steady flow of official org’s banning the app should we all be considering not utilising TT or at least banning it from work devices? What about other similar apps, should we be looking more closely at those and what kind of info they are accessing and potentially sharing?

On the face of it, TT is like any other social media app, it entertains and connects people worldwide with DIY generated content. However, the app hoovers up vast amounts of personal data, but so do competitors such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Apart from Chinese ownership – which is clearly significant – what’s the difference and should we all be more cautious about what we share on social media regardless of the platform? Who might benefit from the data?

The UK govt has implemented several strategies to address security risks in response to these concerns. These include guidance to schools and have also called on Social Media companies to provide more transparency around their data practices. Valkyrie welcome this approach as we believe raising awareness is the best step in fighting issues of privacy. Before implementing anything related to technology understand the risks.

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