France banned the use of TikTok on the phones of its public officials

A person holds a smartphone as the Tik Tok logo is shown behind in this photo illustration taken on November 7, 2019. Picture taken on November 7, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File (Dado Ruvic/)

He French government banned on Friday the installation and use of “leisure” applications, such as the social network TikTok or the US platform Netflix on professional phones 2.5 million agents of the State civil service.

These applications present “risks in terms of cybersecurity and data protection of public agents and the administration”considered sources close to the French Minister of the Civil Service, Stanislas Guerini.

This move follows in the footsteps of several Western governments and institutions that have banned or limited the use of TikTok on professional devices, for fear of spying problems.

The company’s CEO faced questioning by US lawmakers on Thursday. TikTok, owned by the Chinese technology company bytedancehas long maintained that it does not share data with the Chinese regime.

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testifies during a hearing before the US House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, Thursday, March 23, 2023, on Capitol Hill, in Washington.  (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testifies during a hearing before the US House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, Thursday, March 23, 2023, on Capitol Hill, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) (Jacquelyn Martin/)

The testimony of Shou Zi Chew It came at a pivotal time for the company, which has reached 150 million US users but is under increasing pressure from US officials. TikTok and its parent company bytedance they have been involved in a battle geopolitics wider between beijing and washington for trade and technology.

The company points to a project it is carrying out to store the data of American users in the United States, which it says will put it out of the reach of China. It also rejects accusations that it collects more user data than other social media companies, and insists that it is run independently.

In a rare bipartisan effort to reign in power over a major social media platform, Republican and Democratic lawmakers pressed Chew on a number of issues, ranging from TikTok’s content moderation practices, how the company plans to protect users’ American data from Beijing and its espionage.

“Mr. Chew, you’re here because the American people need the truth about the threat that TikTok represents for our national and personal security”, said the president of the committee, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Republican, in her opening statement. “TikTok has repeatedly chosen a path of more control, more surveillance, and more manipulation.”

Chew, a native of Singapore 40 years old, told the House Committee on Energy and Commerce that TikTok prioritizes the safety of its young users and denied allegations that it is a national security risk. He reiterated the company’s plan to protect US user data by storing all of that information on servers maintained and owned by software giant Oracle.

“Let me state this unequivocally: ByteDance is not an agent for China or any other country,” Chew said.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers asked him if he is in regular communication with Bytedance CEO Liang Rubo, to which Chew replied that Yeah.

Also when asked about other Bytedance tech board members in Beijing who are even regime officials in China, Chew did not deny that this was true.

In addition to France, many governments remain cautious about the platform and its links to China. These are the places that have applied partial or total bans to TikTok:


Taliban leaders in Afghanistan banned TikTok and the game PUBG in 2022 on the grounds of protect young people from “being cheated”.


Belgium temporarily banned TikTok on devices owned or paid for by the federal government, citing concerns about cybersecurity, privacy and misinformation. Prime Minister Alexander de Croo said the six-month ban was based on warnings from the state security service and its cybersecurity center.


Canada announced that government-provided devices should not use TikTok, claiming it presents a “unacceptable” risk to privacy and security. Employees will also be prevented from downloading the app in the future.

Stock image of the TikTok logo in Culver City, California, USA.  September 15, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File
Stock image of the TikTok logo in Culver City, California, USA. September 15, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File (Mike Blake/)


Denmark’s Defense Ministry has banned its employees from having TikTok on their work phones, ordering officials who have installed it to remove the app from devices as soon as possible. The ministry said the reasons for the ban included both “weight safety considerations” as “a very limited work-related need to use the app.


In early March, the United States gave government agencies 30 days to remove TikTok from federal devices and systems for data security reasons. The ban only applies to government devices, although some US lawmakers advocate an outright ban. China has lashed out at the United States for banning TikTok, calling the ban an abuse of state power and suppression of companies from other countries. More than half of the 50 US states have also banned the app on official devices, as have Congress and the US military.


India nationwide banned TikTok and dozens of other Chinese apps, including the messaging app wechatin 2020 for reasons of Privacy & Security. The ban came shortly after a clash between Indian and Chinese troops on a disputed Himalayan border in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed and dozens wounded. Companies were given the opportunity to answer questions about privacy and security requirements, but the ban was made permanent in January 2021.


New Zealand lawmakers and staff at the country’s Parliament will not be able to have the TikTok app on their work phones, following the advice of government cybersecurity experts. Under the ban, which takes effect at the end of March, the app will be removed from all devices with access to the parliamentary network, though officials will be able to make special arrangements for anyone who needs TikTok to carry out their democratic duties.


Norway’s parliament banned TikTok on work devices on Thursday, after the country’s Justice Ministry warned that the app should not be installed on phones issued to government employees. The Parliament spokesman said that TikTok should not be on devices with access to the assembly’s systems and that it should be removed as soon as possible. The country’s capital, Oslo, and the second-largest city, Bergen, have also urged municipal employees to remove TikTok from their work phones.


Pakistani authorities have temporarily banned TikTok at least four times since October 2020, citing concerns that the app promotes immoral content.

Video: The TikTok war, an innocent social network or the operating arm of the Chinese spy network?  (AFP)
The TikTok war, an innocent social network or the operating arm of the Chinese spy network? (AFP)


In mid-March, the British authorities banned the use of TikTok on the mobile phones of ministers and civil servants with immediate effect. The authorities stated that the ban was a “precautionary measure” by security reasons and that it did not apply to personal devices. The British Parliament followed up on Thursday by announcing a ban on TikTok on all official devices and the “wider parliamentary network.” The Scottish semi-autonomous government also said Thursday that it was banning TikTok on official devices, effective immediately.


In December 2022, Taiwan imposed a ban on TikTok in the public sector after the FBI warned that TikTok posed a threat. national security risk. Government devices, including mobile phones, tablets and desktop computers, cannot use Chinese-made software, including apps like TikTok, its Chinese equivalent Douyin, or Xiaohongshu, a Chinese lifestyle content app.


The European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of the EU, the three main institutions of the bloc of 27, have banned TikTok on staff devices. Under the European Parliament ban, which took effect on Monday, lawmakers and staff were also advised to remove the TikTok app from their personal devices.

(With information from AP)

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