A full ban on TikTok in Britain may be on the cards over ‘security risks’ posed by China.
Security minister Tom Tugendhat confirmed he tasked the National Cyber Security Centre to investigate the popular with young people app, and if it should be axed from government devices.
Confirming his request, he told Sky News it was ‘absolutely essential’ to keep the country’s ‘diplomatic processes free and safe’.
In another interview with Times Radio, the politician said: ‘I do not have it, and the prime minister asked me to defend the leading democracy taskforce a little while ago.
‘As part of that we are looking at the various threats to parliamentarians, but also to journalists.
‘Looking at the various apps people have on their phones and the implications for them is a hugely important question and I have asked the National Cyber Security Centre to look into this.
‘Until they come back with an answer I am not going to give you one.’
Owned by the Chinese tech giant ByteDance, the app has already been banned on government networks in the US, Canada and the European Union over concerns it could be used to promote pro-Beijing views or gather user data.
In December, the US House’s chief administrative officer said the app is ‘high risk due to a number of security issues’.
Rishi Sunak has previously hinted that the UK could follow the US and the EU by vetoing TikTok from government phones and devices too.
The PM said the government will ‘look at what our allies are doing’.
But speculation about a full ban – like the one ordered by the Indian government in 2020 – has mounted for some time.
Mr Tugendhat, who is seen as a hawk on China within the Tory Party, noted their move on 58 Chinese-owned apps.
Pressed on the full ban, he refused to comment and said: ‘It will be addressed with the challenges we face, with the threats we face.
‘I am not going to give you an answer until I know what the risks are.’
TikTok has long argued it does not share data with China but Chinese intelligence legislation requires firms to assist the Communist Party when requested.
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