The French government has taken a hardline approach to the use of “recreational” apps on government phones, including social media platforms TikTok, Twitter, Netflix, and Candy Crush. According to public service minister Stanislas Guerini, the apps represent cybersecurity risks that could endanger data for both employees and the administration. Le Monde reports that Guerini’s office has not issued an exact list of banned apps but suggests that there could be some exceptions for the sake of necessary communication. A social media team can still post content, but employees using recreational apps may face penalties for defying the rule at the “managerial level.” The approach does not extend to personal devices.
France’s policy comes after several other countries, including the US federal government, dozens of states, Canada, the European Commission, and the UK, have already banned TikTok on their workers’ devices. Their rationale was similar, with concerns that the Chinese government could collect data about important individuals, spread propaganda, and compel ByteDance (TikTok’s parent company) to hand over sensitive information.
Despite TikTok’s repeated denial of collaborating with the Chinese government, CEO Shou Chew said that ByteDance was “not an agent of China” and that American user data would not be accessible to staff in other countries by the end of this year’s migration project. France’s policy, however, is not aimed at any particular country or app category. Instead, it reflects a general concern that entertainment apps may put government data at unnecessary risk. This might not be welcome news for employees hoping to watch Netflix during their lunch breaks, but it may reassure politicians worried that workers might inadvertently expose info through their social media accounts.
In a similar vein, the UK banned TikTok from parliamentary organs earlier due to cybersecurity concerns.