The French government is now joining a growing list of nations that are banning the Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok from smartphones of civil servants over security concerns. France’s Civil Service Minister Stanislas Guerini said Friday that the app is among those that will be banned from the devices.
The French ban covers a wide range of social media and content platforms, including TikTok. It also affects gaming apps like Candy Crush, streaming services such as Netflix, and dating applications.
TikTok’s Ties to China
TikTok’s ties to China are potentially the most serious concern for the app. The Chinese government has extensive controls over the internet, including censorship rules that restrict what is viewed online and which companies can operate in China.
The Communist Party can order businesses to hand over user data and other information to government officials or to delete content at their request. It can also levy penalties on companies that fail to comply with laws and regulations.
This makes TikTok’s ownership by ByteDance, a Chinese company, even more important to lawmakers and other skeptics.
The Chinese government believes that the digital space is territory that could be conquered and used as an information-gathering tool. It has encouraged Chinese firms to conduct national security data audits, and it can threaten to cancel licenses or impose penalties on foreign companies operating in China.
TikTok’s Privacy Concerns
TikTok collects a lot of user data. That includes device identifiers, information about how people use the app and how they interact with other apps.
TikTok’s privacy policies are causing concern among European regulators, who have been investigating it for several years. Ireland’s data protection authority is conducting two investigations into the app for its child protection practices and for transferring EU citizen data to China.
CNIL has also opened an investigation into whether the company is complying with GDPR regulations. In a statement, CNIL said it would need to prove that it was obtaining consent to use the personal data it had collected.
The French ban on TikTok is not a new development, but it brings the country in line with other governments that have banned the app. The Netherlands recently banned TikTok on government-issued smartphones because of concerns that it may be used by hackers to spy on the country’s security agencies and interests.
TikTok’s Security Concerns
The popular social video app TikTok will get banned in France for use on smartphones of civil Servants, in line with recent steps taken by other Western countries. The decision comes in response to concerns over security and privacy risks.
French Civil Service Minister Stanislas Guerini said on Twitter that TikTok has no “sufficient levels of cybersecurity and data protection” and should not be deployed on govt-issued devices.
Several Western governments have already banned TikTok from government-issued phones, but this is the first time that a country has decided to ban its use for all civil servants.
The bans were prompted by cybersecurity experts who reviewed the application and determined it presents a risk to government devices, said Tom Dowden, director of UK Cybersecurity and Cyber Defence at the Cabinet Office. The move is a proportionate and prudent one, he added.
TikTok’s Global Reach
The fastest growing app on the planet, TikTok has more than 150 million monthly users worldwide. But it is gaining more and more calls for it to be banned over fears about China’s access to user data.
A number of governments in the U.S., Britain and the European Union have already banned TikTok on government phones. Western governments worry that Chinese authorities could force TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, to hand over data on international users or push pro-Beijing narratives.
The French government is also banning the use of TikTok on smartphones of civil Servants in a bid to protect data. The minister of public services, Stanislas Guerini, said Friday that TikTok, as well as Twitter, Instagram and other recreational apps, would be blocked from all official devices. He added that exceptions would be granted for communication departments.