The EU executive’s IT service has instructed all Commission staff to delete TikTok from corporate and personal devices that use business apps, highlighting data protection issues.
This week, European Commission officials received a request by email to delete the Chinese-owned social media app.
“To secure the Commission’s data and strengthen its cybersecurity, the EC [European Commission] Corporate Management Board has decided to stop the TikTok application on corporate and personal devices enrolled in the Commission mobile device services,” according to an email obtained by EURACTIV.
Employees were advised to do so as quickly as possible by March 15 or March 15. Those who comply by the deadline will retain access to corporate tools such as the Commission email and Skype for Business.
The step, justified by data protection concerns raised by the app, is intended to protect Commission data and systems from potential cybersecurity risks.
TikTok revealed in November that users’ personal data might be viewed in the Chinese headquarters. The disclosure came after Forbes revealed that the software was being used to spy on journalists.
TikTok has recently been banned on state and federal government devices in the United States. Even though the European government has not followed the United States lead, Netherlands officials were told not to use the Chinese app.
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew met with top EU officials last month, who told him the organization had a long way to go before regaining their trust.
This development comes as the tensions between China and the Western world mount. In the context of the Russia-Ukraine war, US president Joe Biden visited Kyiv, and Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi visited Moscow for talks.
TikTok has also been accused of allowing Russian war propaganda to be promoted across the platform. Read more in our article How TikTok videos became a voice for pro-Kremlin war propaganda.