TikTok has come under new criticism, facing new regulatory challenges in the EU and Canada.
The European Commission (EC) and Council of the EU announced last week that employees have been banned from using the popular social media app, with all companies being given a deadline of March 15 to remove the app from any and all of their devices, as well as private devices that use EU applications.
“To increase its cybersecurity, the Commission's Corporate Management Board has decided to suspend the use of the TikTok application on its corporate devices and on personal devices enrolled in the Commission mobile device service,” said the EC in a statement. “This measure aims to protect the Commission against cybersecurity threats and actions which may be exploited for cyber-attacks against the corporate environment of the Commission.”
The announcement also stated that important applications, such as Skype and the EC’s email program, will be blocked on any company phones unless TikTok is removed.
This decision follows an acknowledgement by TikTok that certain employees in China had access to user data from European users. However, the company told Politico that the decision was “based on fundamental misconceptions” and “misguided.”
“We have contacted the Commission to set the record straight and explain how we protect the data of the 125 million people across the EU who come to TikTok every month,” said a spokesperson for the company.
Is TikTok doing enough to protect users?
Canadian regulators launched their own investigation into TikTok, with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner working alongside provincial privacy regulators in Quebec, Alberta, and British Columbia, reports the BBC.
The probe follows “now-settled class-action lawsuits in the United States and Canada, as well as numerous media reports related to TikTok’s collection, use and disclosure of personal information,” and aims to determine “whether the organisation’s practices are in compliance with Canadian privacy legislation.”
A spokesperson for TikTok welcomed the probe as an opportunity to “set the record straight” and clarify what it does to protect the privacy and data of Canadian users.
TikTok has become a target of intense scrutiny over the past few years, with governments worldwide growing concerned that the Chinese government could use the app to gather user data and advance its own interests. However, TikTok has previously stated that Beijing has no access to any data on its service.