Parliament has decided to shut down its new TikTok account after just one week due to data security concerns raised by MPs.
Four MPs and two Lords who have all been sanctioned by China wrote to Commons speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle and Lord speaker Lord John McFall to complain about “data security risks associated with the app” and urged the pair to shut down the new account.
The group of parliamentarians – which includes Tom Tugendhat, Sir Iain Duncan Smith and Nusrat Ghani – said that “while efforts made to engage young people in the history and functioning of parliament should always be welcomed, we cannot and should not legitimise the use of an app which has been described by tech experts as ‘essentially Chinese government spyware'”.
TikTok is owned by Beijing-based technology company ByteDance and concerns have been widely raised that it could harvest data for the Chinese government – a claim denied by the social media giant.
Under a 2017 law, Chinese firms must hand over all their data to the government upon request.
Parliamentary authorities made the move today to lock the TikTok account, after it went live on 27 July, and delete all its content.
A UK parliament spokesman said: “Based on members’ feedback, we are closing the pilot UK parliament TikTok account earlier than we had planned. The account was a pilot initiative while we tested the platform as a way of reaching younger audiences with relevant content about parliament.”
A TikTok spokesman said: “While it is disappointing that parliament will no longer be able to connect with the millions of people who use TikTok in the UK, we reiterate the offer to reassure those members of parliament who raised concerns and clarify any inaccuracies about our platform.”