Parliament has decided to block the popular Chinese-owned video-sharing app, TikTok, from all parliamentary devices and networks due to cybersecurity concerns. This decision comes after the UK government’s recent ban of the app on government mobile phones and devices. Even MPs who have installed TikTok on their personal devices will no longer have access to the service over parliamentary Wi-Fi. The spokesperson for parliament has stated that cybersecurity is a top priority, and they do not comment on specific details of their cyber or physical security controls, policies or incidents.
Grant Shapps, the Secretary of State for Energy Security, was one of many MPs who spoke out about their desire to continue posting on the social video app even after the government’s ban. However, MPs, including Shapps, will only be able to post on the platform from their personal devices and not through parliament networks.
TikTok’s CEO, Shou Zi Chew, was giving evidence to a committee of the US House of Representatives when the ban was announced. The American decision to ban federal employees from installing TikTok on work devices prompted similar bans around the world, including Scotland. The Scottish government has also banned TikTok from its mobile phones and other corporate devices after discussions with the UK government.
Scotland’s deputy first minister, John Swinney, stated that the Scottish government’s devices were configured in line with the best practices from the National Cyber Security Centre to manage any risk associated with the use of third-party applications. Their decision to prohibit the use of TikTok follows discussions with the UK government about the potential tracking and privacy risks from certain social media apps. The ban will be implemented immediately and will not extend to personal devices used by staff or the general public.