TikTok Usage Banned on Irish Government Devices Amid Cybersecurity Concerns

The state body responsible for advising the Irish government on cyber security recommended on Friday that staff at government departments and state agencies not use Chinese-owned video app TikTok on official devices.

A number of Western countries including Britain, the US and other European Union member states have barred TikTok over security concerns. The EU’s two biggest policymaking institutions also banned the app last month.

TikTok, which is owned by Chinese firm ByteDance, is under scrutiny from governments and regulators because of concerns that China’s government could use its app to harvest users’ data or advance its interests.

The head of Ireland’s National Cyber Security Centre said TikTok is on the “very high end, if not the highest end in terms of the amount of user data it collects” and that this created a risk, given the nature of Chinese intelligence-gathering law.

“The issue here is not what we know to be happening. The issue here rather is what we can’t rule out is happening,” NCSC director Richard Browne told national broadcaster RTE.

“Once the risk exists in this kind of context, then it puts us in a situation where the logical argument is that we take a sensible risk-based approach and ensure that government data can’t be compromised in this way.”

The NCSC said there was no reason why politicians could not use the app on their private devices and that it could be used on official devices in exceptional cases where there is a business need, such as by a press office.

TikTok runs a number of its European operations from Dublin, including data privacy and protection. It announced last month that it would open a second data centre in Ireland and reduce the transfer of data outside of the EU.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

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