European Commission Bans TikTok On All Corporate Devices and Networks ‘To Increase Its Cybersecurity’

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Brussels’ Berlaymont building, which serves as the headquarters of the European Commission. Photo Credit: EmDee

After Congress (and north of 20 state governments) banned TikTok due to far-reaching privacy and national-security concerns, the European Commission has followed suit by prohibiting the app.

The European Union’s executive branch today announced that it would bar TikTok’s use on “corporate devices” as well as all “personal devices enrolled in the Commission mobile device service.” In explaining the decision, which follows TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew’s January meeting with EU lawmakers, the European Commission emphasized its desire to remain “well protected against increasing cyber threats and incidents.”

“This measure aims to protect the Commission against cybersecurity threats and actions which may be exploited for cyber-attacks against the corporate environment of the Commission,” the entity spelled out, noting also that it intends to keep the “security developments” of other social apps “under constant review.”

As with the initially mentioned state-level bans in the U.S., the European Commission’s TikTok prohibition doesn’t extend to employees’ own cell phones (and different devices) that are attached to non-corporate networks.

“Today’s suspension is an internal corporate decision which is strictly limited to the use of devices enrolled in its mobile service,” the Commission indicated of the ban’s scope. Even so, it stands to reason that the security and privacy worries behind the EU branch’s decision likewise render TikTok less than ideal for use outside the government.

Predictably, TikTok pushed back against the European Commission’s “misguided” decision, which could potentially lay the groundwork for a full-scale ban in EU nations.

“We believe this suspension is misguided and based on fundamental misconceptions,” a TikTok spokesperson communicated in a widely circulated statement. “We have contacted the Commission to set the record straight and explain how we protect the data of the 125 million people across the EU who come to TikTok every month.”

Notwithstanding the company representative’s assurances, TikTok (which is banned outright in India and Jordan) has long faced criticism for the staggering amount of user data that it collects. Additionally, the platform’s ByteDance parent (which is owned in part by the Chinese Communist Party) has acknowledged that employees improperly accessed account information.

Meanwhile, deputy attorney general Lisa Monaco in a speech last week reiterated that ByteDance and other Chinese companies must turn over information to Beijing at once if ordered to do so. For this and related reasons, the top-ranking Justice Department official advised the public against using the app.

It’s unclear at present whether the latter remarks and the growing government scrutiny of TikTok are trickling down into the service’s mainstream userbase and/or the music industry, where viral trends have helped multiple songs and acts to find new listeners.

But as its CEO prepares to testify before Congress, TikTok appears to be operating as usual, having announced a new #AltMusic featured artist, exclusively streamed the famed Death Row catalog, and debuted a revamped Creator Fund during the past week alone.