The French government has prohibited its officials this Friday from installing the application of the Chinese social network TikTok and other “recreational” applications on their professional phones for essentially security reasons, as other countries and institutions in Europe have already done. “These applications may constitute a risk for the data protection of administrations and their public agents,” the Ministry of Transformation and Public Function explained in a statement.
The European Commission prohibits its workers from installing TikTok
The Executive has detailed that the decision has been made after an analysis in which the challenges they posed have been taken into account. In practical terms, it will not be possible to download or install recreational applications such as the popular Chinese social network on the professional phones provided by the Administration to its workers. The reason is that “they do not offer sufficient levels of cybersecurity and data protection” so that they can be used on these computers, although the Ministry pointed out that derogations from this prohibition may be granted “on an exceptional basis” when justified “by needs professionals” such as institutional communication.
The decision of the French authorities is one of those taken by different Western governments or the European Commission in response to concerns raised by Chinese legislation that obliges companies to transmit personal data when they consider that it is justified for reasons of national security. France is in fact the fourth EU country to make this decision, which has also been adopted by the European Commission after the US redoubled pressure on the Chinese app.
In Denmark, the Ministry of Defense banned TikTok for its employees on official phones on March 6. In Latvia, on March 2, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs imposed a ban on using the app on electronic work devices. The United Kingdom did the same on March 16, when it banned TikTok on official government mobile phones for security reasons. In the Netherlands, the work phones received by government officials will be configured in such a way that only pre-approved applications can be installed, avoiding those “sensitive to espionage” such as the TikTok social network since last Wednesday.
Pressure in the US
The US banned TikTok from official mobile phones months ago and is now considering demanding that the company cut all relations with China if it wants to continue operating in the country. The CEO of TikTok, Shou Zi Chew, attended a special session with US congressmen on Thursday and warned them that imposing a veto on that platform in the country would be detrimental to the economy and freedom of expression.
“It’s an app where people can be creative. There are close to five million American businesses, most of them small, that use it to find customers and boost their growth,” he told the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, where he recalled that there are around 150 million users in the US. . Chew had met bilaterally this year with some lawmakers to emphasize that the company offers privacy and security guarantees, but this was his first official appearance on Capitol Hill.
Chew recalled that he is a Singaporean and a resident of Singapore, that TikTok is run by an executive team in the US and Singapore, that it is headquartered in Los Angeles and Singapore, and that it is not available on the Chinese mainland. He said he was aware, however, that the fact that his parent company, ByteDance, has Chinese founders has raised suspicions about whether his platform could be used or become a tool of China or the Chinese Communist Party. But “ByteDance is not owned or controlled by the Chinese government. It is a private company. I have no proof that the Chinese Executive has access to the data. They have never asked us,” he stated.