Home Brussels Belgium bans TikTok on government phones 

Belgium bans TikTok on government phones 

by editor

Belgium’s National Security Council Friday banned the use of TikTok on work phones of government officials, the latest in a series of European governments cracking down on the Chinese-owned social media app.

“We can’t be naive: TikTok is a Chinese company that currently is mandated to cooperate with Chinese intelligence services,” Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said in a statement shared with POLITICO.

The Belgian ban is based on a risk analysis by the country’s intelligence services and recommendations by the national cybersecurity center. It was issued for a period of six months, after which Belgian authorities will re-evaluate its guidelines.

The popular Chinese video app was banned by EU institutions at the end of February in a series of decisions that prevent staff from using and installing the app on work-related phones.

TikTok, which is owned by Chinese tech firm ByteDance, this week launched a European charm offensive and promised changes to its data protection policies to alleviate concerns around its use. The company has denied posing a security risk.

Belgian government officials using personal phones won’t face hard restrictions but authorities still recommended them not to install TikTok. The National Security Council also urged regional and local governments to issue a “similar” ban and asks the Belgian data protection authority to investigate TikTok’s privacy policy.

On Thursday, the IT agency of the government of Flanders, Belgium’s northern region, already decided to block access to TikTok for all government services that use the centralized IT services and government network.

In a statement shared with POLITICO, a TikTok spokesperson said the company was “disappointed” at Belgium’s ban, which is based on “basic misinformation.”

“TikTok is not a Chinese company. Our parent company is also incorporated outside of China and is majority owned by global institutional investors,” the spokesperson said. The company said it was available “to meet with officials to address any concerns and set the record straight on misconceptions.”

This article has been updated.

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