TikTok Looking At Banning Irish Politicians From Having Their App On Their Phones
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The widely popular social media app TikTok may be banned on the phones of Irish politicians and senior government officials as government cybersecurity experts examine the security risks posed by the Chinese-owned social media giant.
Over a fifth of Ireland’s population are active TikTok users and it is currently the fastest-growing social media app in the country. Not only that, but the app is finding a growing popularity among Irish politicians who aim to reach a new, younger audience.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has 4,530 followers and Tánaiste Micheál Martin has 9,154 followers, while the current Minister for Justice, Simon Harris, has a whopping 91,700 followers. This may become a thing of the past, however, as the Daily Mirror has reported that TikTok could be banned on the phones of Irish politicians.
It is expected that government cybersecurity experts will soon announce new guidelines for ministers’ work phones after reviewing the security risks posed by TikTok and other social media apps.
Ireland is not alone in such a review of the security risks of TikTok. Staff at the EU commission have been ordered to delete the app from their devices and it is banned from the phones of politicians and senior government officials in countries such as the United States, Britain, New Zealand, Denmark and Belgium.
The issue has been a particularly hot topic in the United States. Despite one in three Americans using the app, a total ban on TikTok from operating in the US has long been mooted. This is due to the app's parent company, ByteDance, having the Chinese government as its main shareholder.
Speaking to reports outside Leinster House yesterday, the Minister of State with responsibility for Public Procurement, eGovernment and Circular Economy, Ossian Smyth said “On the questions about Tik Tok, the National Cybersecurity Centre has recently issued guidance on the use of handheld devices across the public sector, how to minimise risk on that. And more detailed guidance is going to be issued in the coming weeks.”
He added “If you’re talking about risky apps, there’s more than one risky app out there. The fact is that every government restricts how its mobile phones are used, the ones that are issued to its staff.”
The development has shone a spotlight on Ireland’s relationship with the tech giant that already employs thousands of people in the country, most of whom are based in its EU headquarters in Dublin. Also, it is currently finalising plans to add a second
data centre in Ireland and is continuing its efforts to base its European TikTok user data in the country.