scorecardThe UK has banned TikTok on government devices — joining the US, Canada, and the EU — despite a charm offensive dubbed 'Project Clover'
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The UK has banned TikTok on government devices joining the US, Canada, and the EU — despite a charm offensive dubbed 'Project Clover'

Pete Syme   

The UK has banned TikTok on government devices — joining the US, Canada, and the EU — despite a charm offensive dubbed 'Project Clover'
Tech2 min read
  • The UK has joined the EU, US, and Canada in banning TikTok on government devices.
  • TikTok execs had previously tried to convince UK policy advisers that their data is safe.

The British government announced Thursday it will ban TikTok on official devices, joining the US, Canada, and the European Union.

Officials ordered a security review into the potential vulnerability of sensitive data on several social media apps, and are now introducing a "precautionary ban on TikTok."

"The security of sensitive government information must come first, so today we are banning this app on government devices," said Oliver Dowden, a senior cabinet minister. "The use of other data-extracting apps will be kept under review."

"Restricting the use of TikTok on government devices is a prudent and proportionate step following advice from our cyber security experts," he added.

The government also said that there will be specific exemptions to the ban, as it has some limited work purposes.

The EU's executive body, the European Commission, last month told staff they have until March 15 to delete the app from their phones, per The Guardian.

It follows similar bans in the US and Canada, over fears that the Chinese-owned app could gather sensitive information about government employees and pass it on to China's government or intelligence services.

But the latest ban comes despite TikTok's "Project Clover" – a charm offensive to convince European lawmakers that users' data will be safe.

As part of the project, TikTok executives met with British policy advisers on March 6, per The Wall Street Journal. But some attendees told the Journal that, while they appreciated the transparency efforts, they still remain skeptical that TikTok could refuse an order from the Chinese government.

Officials from the cybersecurity arm of GCHQ – the UK's equivalent of the National Security Agency – met with TikTok representatives too, The Times of London reported.

TikTok said it was building two more data centers in Ireland and Norway to ensure some 150 million users' data in Europe is stored locally. "Any data access will not only comply with the relevant data protection laws but also have to first go through these security gateways and additional checks," the company said.

Based on previous reports, a TikTok spokesperson said it "would be disappointed by such a move." They added: "Similar decisions elsewhere have been based on misplaced fears and seemingly driven by wider geopolitics, but we remain committed to working with the government to address any concerns."

TikTok did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment regarding the UK's confirmation of the ban.




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