On Friday, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) of Ireland, the body responsible for advising the government on cybersecurity, recommended that staff at government departments and state agencies refrain from using TikTok, the video-sharing app owned by the Chinese firm ByteDance, on official devices.
The NCSC’s recommendation came amid concerns about the Chinese government’s ability to use TikTok to collect users’ data or advance its interests.
Several Western countries, including the US, Britain, and some European Union member states, have already banned TikTok over security concerns.
Richard Browne, the director of the NCSC, warned that TikTok collects a significant amount of user data, making it a high-risk app.
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He explained that this raised concerns, given the nature of Chinese intelligence-gathering laws.
According to Browne, “The issue here is not what we know to be happening. The issue here rather is what we can’t rule out is happening.”
This, he said, created a situation where a sensible, risk-based approach was necessary to prevent government data from being compromised.
The NCSC clarified that there was no reason why politicians could not use TikTok on their private devices.
However, in exceptional cases where there is a business need, such as by a press office, the app could be used on official devices.
TikTok runs several of its European operations from Dublin, including data privacy and protection.
In a bid to address concerns about data privacy, the company announced last month that it would open a second data center in Ireland and reduce the transfer of data outside the EU.
From an expert’s point of view, the NCSC’s recommendation is not surprising, given the growing concerns about TikTok’s data privacy practices.
As a Chinese-owned app, TikTok’s data collection practices have been the subject of scrutiny by several Western countries.
For instance, the US government has accused TikTok of collecting data on Americans that could be shared with the Chinese government.
In response to these concerns, TikTok has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, stating that its data collection practices are transparent and that its user data is stored in the US and Singapore.
However, as Richard Browne pointed out, the issue with TikTok is not what is known to be happening but what can’t be ruled out.
Given China’s intelligence-gathering laws, there is a risk that TikTok could be used to harvest users’ data or advance the Chinese government’s interests.
As a result, it is essential to take a sensible, risk-based approach to prevent government data from being compromised.
In conclusion, the NCSC’s recommendation that staff at government departments and state agencies refrain from using TikTok on official devices is a necessary step to ensure data privacy and security.
While there may be no evidence of wrongdoing by TikTok, the potential risks associated with the app are too high to ignore.
As such, it is essential to take a risk-based approach to data security and ensure that government data is protected from potential breaches.