The Belgian federal government has banned TikTok, the Chinese-owned video app, from work phones used by its employees, citing concerns about data security.
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Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo made the announcement on Friday, saying that the country’s national security council had warned of the risks associated with the amount of data collected by the app and the requirement for the company to cooperate with Chinese intelligence services.
TikTok, which is owned by ByteDance, has denied the accusations, saying that it stores user data in the US and Singapore and is building data centers in Europe. The company also stated that the decision was based on “fundamentally wrong information.”
The European Commission and the European Parliament recently banned TikTok from staff phones due to concerns about data security, and whether China’s government could harvest users’ data or advance its interests. However, Beijing has denied any such intentions.
Belgium’s Flemish regional government has also announced that it will restrict access to TikTok on staff phones, while De Croo urged other regional governments to follow suit.
De Croo emphasized the need to prioritize information safety, stating that “the safety of our information must prevail.”
Although TikTok claims that it stores user data in safe locations, the Belgian government has chosen to err on the side of caution, given the app’s Chinese ownership and the potential risks associated with this.
As TikTok continues to grow in popularity worldwide, concerns about data security and Chinese government interference are likely to persist. The Belgian government’s decision to ban the app from work phones is just the latest example of countries taking steps to safeguard their citizens’ data.