Due to worries about cybersecurity and data privacy, the French government has announced a ban on the use of the Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok on the professional phones of civil officials. Civil Service Minister Stanislas Guerini stated on Twitter that “recreational applications” such as TikTok lack basic cybersecurity and data protection to be implemented on government equipment. The ban will go into force immediately, with government services monitoring compliance and exceptions possible for professional reasons such as institutional communication.
France’s decision follows a recent wave of other Western governments and institutions prohibiting TikTok. Similar steps have been implemented by the UK parliament, the Dutch and Belgian administrations, and the New Zealand parliament, while the European Union’s two major policy-making organs, the Commission and the Council, have both blocked TikTok from staff phones for cybersecurity reasons.
Governments are concerned about TikTok and its parent business, ByteDance, because the Chinese government may have access to users’ location and contact information. In the United States, lawmakers accused TikTok of delivering hazardous content and inflicting emotional anguish to young viewers during a recent congressional session. Despite TikTok’s CEO, Chew, maintaining that the firm has invested in safeguards to protect young people who use the app, concerns about the platform’s disproportionate influence on teenagers have not been allayed.
Finally, the TikTok ban for French civil officials’ work phones is a big step forward in the ongoing discussion over the platform’s possible security threats. As the use of TikTok grows in popularity around the world, governments must prioritize cybersecurity and data protection, particularly for important organizations such as the civil service. It remains to be seen whether other governments will follow suit and impose similar restrictions on TikTok.