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Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre reviewing TikTok risks: security minister

The U.K.’s National Cyber Security Centre is reviewing whether Chinese-owned video app TikTok should be banned from government phones, security minister Tom Tugendhat said on Tuesday.

TikTok has come under increasing scrutiny over fears that user data could be leaked to the Chinese government, undermining Western security interests.

The app, owned by Chinese company ByteDance Ltd., has already been banned from government devices in the United States, Canada, Belgium, and the European Commission.

“Understanding exactly what the challenges that these apps pose and what they are asking for and how they’re reaching into our lives is incredibly important,” Tugendhat told Sky News when questioned if he would like to see TikTok banned from British government phones.

“That’s why I’ve asked the National Cyber Security Centre to look into this. I haven’t yet had an answer. So I’m not going to give you that answer yet. I can’t,” he elaborated.

He stressed the need “to make sure that our phones are not spyware, but useful tools for us” in a separate interview with Times Radio.

TikTok did not immediately comment on the statement. However, it has previously claimed bans were misguided and based on fundamental misconceptions.

The White House backed legislation last week to empower the administration so that TikTok could be banned along with other foreign-based technologies if they pose national security threats.

In an update to its blueprint for security and international policy, Britain said on Monday China was representing an “epoch-defining challenge” to the world order.

“We look at what our allies are doing,” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, while on a trip to the U.S. on Monday, told ITV in a reply to questions if the British government was pondering a ban on TikTok.

“We want to make sure that we protect the integrity and security of sensitive information. And we will always do that and take whatever steps are necessary to make sure that happens,” he added.

In the United States alone, TikTok was downloaded 210 times by mid-February. According to a report by Wallaroo Media, there have been over 1 billion monthly active users of the app worldwide.

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