The European Commission has temporarily banned TikTok from its employees’ phones over concerns around potential cyberattacks.
The Commission, which draws up proposals for new European laws and manages EU policies, has suspended the Chinese-owned video sharing app on both phones issued to staff and personal devices that are used for work.
The move reflects widening worries from Western officials over the platform.
TikTok is increasingly under the European and US microscope over security and data privacy, with concerns that the app could be used to promote pro-Beijing views or gather user data.
Commission spokesperson Sonya Gospodinova said: “The reason why this decision has been taken is to… increase the commission’s cybersecurity.
“Also, the measure aims to protect the commission against cybersecurity threats and actions which may be exploited for cyberattacks against the corporate environment of the commission.”
Employees have up until 15 March to delete the app from their devices, but EU representatives did not clarify how that would be enforced on those who use personal phones for work.
Commission spokespeople declined to say whether a specific incident triggered the suspension or what was needed to get the ban lifted.
Meanwhile, TikTok, which has 125 million users in the 27-nation EU, said it wanted to “set the record straight”.
The app’s Brussels-based public policy official, Caroline Greer tweeted that the suspension “is misguided and based on fundamental misconceptions”.
“We have requested a meeting to set the record straight,” said Ms Greer, adding that TikTok is “continuing to enhance” its approach to data security.
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Delete TikTok or risk your data being exposed to ‘hostile’ threats
This includes opening three European data centres and minimising data sent outside Europe.
The latest suspension among European Commission staff follows the app being banned from government devices in more than half of US states and Congress.
Meanwhile in Norway, which is not an EU member, the justice minister was forced to apologise for failing to disclose she had installed TikTok on her government-issued phone.
TikTok has come under further pressure from the EU too – over new digital regulations it wants the app to comply with.
It wants big online platforms to clean up harmful and illegal content along with stricter data privacy rules.