The European Commission and the Council of the European Union have prohibited this Thursday the use of the TikTok application on the corporate devices of their employees and on affiliated personal devices such as protection measure against cybersecurity actions and threats.
At first, it was the European Commission that made the decision. However, after that announcement, Council sources have confirmed that they joined also to the application of this preventive measure.
“Since the beginning of the mandate, the European Commission has had a strong interest in cybersecurity (…) and in this area a decision has been made today” to “preserve the institution”, has indicated the European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton. He has also justified that there were “some reasons” for making this decision.
According to a spokesperson for the institution, employees will have until March 15 to remove the application from their corporate devices, although it has not offered guidelines on its use on personal devices.
The Commission has detailed that this suspension is an internal corporate decision that se strictly limited to the use of devices affiliated with your mobile service.
The measure conforms to the strict internal Commission cybersecurity policies applicable to the use of mobile devices in work-related communications.
The decision was made due to fears in Brussels that third parties could exploit the application to carry out cyberattacks against the Commission’s corporate environmentand progress has been made to examine other social networks as well.
They clarify that it is not due to “an immediate threat”
The European Commission has clarified that the decision to ban the use of TikTok on the official phones of its workers It is not because there is “an immediate threat”but it has been taken due to the desire to “further strengthen” the institution’s cybersecurity measures.
“I can reassure you that there is no immediate threat, but we are constantly monitoring the situation. It is not a secret that we are under increased cybersecurity threat and therefore we have to take measures to prevent anything in the future. “said Commissioner for Budget and Administration Johannes Hahn.
The measure, however, will review “constantly”, reason why in the future it could be “reversible”, assured the spokeswoman of the Commission, Sonya Gospodinova.
Measure that has been contemplated for some time
Brussels has been focusing its attention on TikTok and the rest of the big technology companies for some time, and in this context, in January he met with the CEO of the Chinese company, Shou Zi Chew, to whom he expressed his intention to prohibit its use in the European Union if it did not prevent minors from having access to “potentially deadly videos” and that user data “is transferred to third countries”.
In addition, it complements the recommendations that the Commission has been making for a long time to its staff to apply best practices when using social media platforms and to maintain a high level of awareness in their daily work. Like the US Congress, the European Commission is taking steps to ban legislators and their employees from installing the app on their official phones.
A measure that several States have also adoptedincluding Texas, Alabama or Tennessee, as well as other institutions such as the University of Florida.
The controversy in the US over the use of the Chinese application has worsened after the recent revelation that ByteDance, the company that owns TikTok, used the social network to spy on journalists.
TikTok shows its surprise at the measure
For his part, TikTok has requested a meeting with the European Commission to “set the record straight” about your own security measures and, as the company has explained in a statement, it is “surprised” that the institution has not previously contacted them or “offered any explanation”.
The company has ensured that wants to explain to the EC how it protects the data of the 125 million people who watch TikTok every month in the EU, and has noted that it is establishing three centers in Europe to store user data locally, “further reducing employee access to it and minimizing data flows outside of Europe.”
This is not the only application that the Community Executive has prohibited, since previously also banned the Zoom video calling appbut it does allow other similar ones like Skype for Business or Webex.