The UK government’s decision to remove social media platform TikTok from all work devices has triggered calls for businesses to do the same.
Fears have grown in Whitehall that sensitive data held on official phones could be accessed by the Chinese government via the TikTok app.
Although TikTok has strongly denied allegations that users’ data is shared with the Chinese authorities, it is thought it would be difficult for its parent company ByteDance to refuse such a request from Beijing.
Theo Bertram, the app’s vice-president of government relations and public policy in Europe, told the BBC that the decision was based “more on geopolitics than anything else”.
Cybersecurity is an HR issue, not just a matter for IT
What has cyber security got to do with HR?
Five ways HR can improve cyber security
However, the growing fears over data security has prompted the CEO of office equipment firm Officeology, Adam Butler to call for all businesses to remove TiKTok from devices.
He said: “The announcement that the Government will be banning TikTok from work phones is something I believe all workplaces should take onboard. There has been much speculation around user data from the platform being easily accessed and shared, which poses threats to data and security breaches.”
Butler added that business owners had a responsibility to ensure data protection and security, and if there was any chance of breaches occurring, the business should impose restrictions on whatever had the potential to cause issues.
He pointed out that the app could enable access to customers’ data, and that businesses had a duty of care to protect the privacy and data of their customers.
Recent analysis has also shown that TikTok collects data from the device, added Butler, “including other apps that have been downloaded on the work device, the user’s Wifi and sim card. This poses extra risk to business information being easily accessible without your business even knowing.”
The Chinese embassy in London said the government’s move was motivated by politics “rather than facts” and would “undermine the confidence of the international community in the UK’s business environment”.
Governments in the European Union and the US administration already bar the video-sharing app from official government devices.
MP Nadine Dorries – who used to TikTok videos when she was culture secretary – said she had deleted the app from her phone and that “all MPs should do likewise.”
The Welsh government has also banned TikTok from the work phones of ministers and civil servants.
In Edinburgh, a spokesperson for the Scottish government said officials were liaising with the Cabinet Office “as we consider the need for further action”.
Latest HR job opportunities on Personnel Today
Browse more human resources jobs