Parliament bans TikTok as its CEO is grilled by US Congress over China data security concerns
TikTok is to be blocked from all parliamentary devices amid rising concerns over data security and links to the Chinese government.
The social media video sharing app will be blocked from use on all phones issued by the House of Commons and the House of Lords – just weeks after the government took a similar step.
A UK Parliament spokesperson said: “Following the government’s decision to ban TikTok from government devices, the commissions of both the House of Commons and Lords have decided TikTok will be blocked from all parliamentary devices and the wider parliamentary network.
“Cyber security is a top priority for Parliament, however we do not comment on specific details of our cyber or physical security controls, policies or incidents.”
US takes action on TikTok
It comes as chief executive Shou Zi Chew was grilled by a Congress panel on data security concerns, in his – and any TikTok CEO’s – first appearance before US lawmakers.
He told the panel, convened by the House committee on energy and commerce, his firm, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, would not share US user data with Beijing.
On reports ByteDance employees have accessed the user data of US journalists, Chew told Congress members he condemned the behaviour.
“We took swift disciplinary action against employees and are implementing measures to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” he said.
Congresswoman Kat Cammack played a video of threatening content aimed at members of the committee.
“You damn well know that you cannot protect the data and security of this committee or the 150 million users of your app because it’s an extension of the Chinese Communist Party,” she said.
The committee did not allow Chew to directly respond, but he has emphasised the work TikTok is doing under Project Texas to protect US user data.
Similar efforts are underway in Europe in what has been branded Project Clover.
Privacy fears have grown in recent months, with the European Commission, Biden administration and UK government making moves to ban or restrict access to the platform.