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Belgium joins other countries in banning TikTok from staff phones

Belgium joins other countries in banning TikTok from staff phones

Belgium joins the countries that have banned the Chinese-owned video platform TikTok from its government staff.

The country’s Flemish regional government decided on Thursday to block access to it on its staff’s phones and computers. This comes after advice from several Belgian security and cyber security agencies.

Several EU institutions have recently banned ByteDance’s TikTok on staff phones due to growing concerns that users’ data could end up in the hands of the Chinese government. This, of course, undermines Western security interests. Beijing has regularly denied having any such intentions.

Johan Smekens, a top official at the Flemish regional government’s digitization department, said the ban was effective immediately, stating, “It is important that all government employees are aware of the risks involved in using the app.”

US federal employees were banned from using TikTok late last year. In addition, just recently, the White House gave government agencies 30 days to scrub the app from their systems.

Subsequently, the two biggest policy-making institutions of the European Union have banned TikTok from staff phones for cybersecurity reasons. The EU executive Commission issued a statement about the decision, saying that it would apply to work and personal phones and devices:

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“To increase its cybersecurity, the Commission’s Corporate Management Board has decided to suspend the use of the TikTok application on its corporate devices and on personal devices enrolled in the Commission mobile device service. This measure aims to protect the Commission against cybersecurity threats and actions which may be exploited for cyber-attacks against the corporate environment of the Commission.”

Meanwhile, Canada follows the banning of the platform as it also prohibits it from all government-issued devices, stating that the app “presents an unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security”, a government spokesperson said in a statement.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said there was enough concern about security around the app to require the change. At a press conference near Toronto, he said, “This may be the first step, this may be the only step we need to take.”

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