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Now BBC urges staff to delete TikTok

Mobile phone - Likewize

The BBC has urged staff to delete the Chinese-owned social media app TikTok from company mobile devices.

The move comes after the UK government banned the app on government-issued phones last week, amid fears of sensitive data being accessed by the Chinese governmentthrough Chinese internet company and TikTok creator ByteDance.

Guidance to BBC staff circulated on Sunday said: “We don’t recommend installing TikTok on a BBC corporate device unless there is a justified business reason. If you do not need TikTok for business reasons, TikTok should be deleted.”

The guidance went on: “The decision is based on concerns raised by government authorities worldwide regarding data privacy and security.”

The BBC asked employees who have TikTok on their personal phones, but also use those devices for work reasons, to contact the organisation’s information security team in order to discuss “the type of BBC information that you are working with.”

A BBC spokesperson added: “The BBC takes the safety and security of our systems, data and people incredibly seriously. We constantly review activity on third-party platforms – including TikTok – and will continue to do so.”

The corporation said the use of TikTok on BBC corporate devices was still permitted for editorial and marketing purposes, but that it would continue to monitor and assess the situation.

On Friday the Cabinet Office said the government’s decision to ban TikTok from government phones was a “prudent and proportionate step”, after China criticised the move. The government said the ban did not extend to personal devices for government employees, ministers or the general public.

TikTok insists it does not share data with China, although Chinese legislation requires companies to help the Communist party when requested. Critics fear this policy could expose data to Beijing, amid growing concerns about how China could use technology against the west. There are also concerns that the Chinese state could gain access to the TikTok’s recommendation algorithm, which curates what users see on the app, in order to manipulate what they view on the app’s main “For You” feed.

A spokesperson for the UK Chinese embassy has accused the UK government of acting “based on its political motive rather than facts.”

In 2020, Boris Johnson’s government began phasing out the involvement of Chinese tech giant Huawei in the UK’s 5G network, citing security concerns. The United States had earlier placed restrictions on Huawei’s access to US technology.

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