The Scottish Government has banned social media app TikTok from its mobile phones and other corporate devices following discussions with the UK Government.
The move comes after the UK Government banned the app on its phones amid fears of sensitive data being accessed by the Chinese government – though Beijing’s embassy in the UK has hit out at the move.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said on Thursday the ban will begin immediately.
He said: “Devices managed by the Scottish Government are configured in line with best practice from the National Cyber Security Centre, which helps us to manage any risk associated with the use of third-party applications.
“Our decision to prohibit the use of TikTok follows engagement with the UK Government on the potential tracking and privacy risks from certain social media apps.
“Currently there is limited use of TikTok within Government and limited need for staff to use the app on work devices. This ban will be implemented immediately. It does not extend to personal devices used by staff or the general public.”
Last week, Scottish parliamentary authorities “strongly advised” MSPs to remove TikTok from any of their devices, including personal phones.
In an email to all parliamentary staff and MSPs, a senior IT official at Holyrood said: “After discussions with the National Cyber Security Centre, we are strongly advising that all members, members’ staff, Parliament staff and contractors’ staff remove the TikTok app from any device currently used to access the Scottish Parliament’s IT systems.
“This includes personal devices and Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body-issued devices.
“We are giving this advice based on a precautionary approach and the best information available to us at this moment given the concerns around the information the TikTok application can collect from devices.”
He said the advice is considered “proportionate and necessary given the situation as we currently understand it” and will be kept under review.
A spokesperson for TikTok said: “As we have said, we believe these bans are based on fundamental misconceptions and driven by wider geopolitics. We are readily available to meet with the Scottish Government to address any concerns but should be judged on facts and treated equally to our competitors.
“We have begun implementing a comprehensive plan to further protect our European user data, which includes storing UK user data in our European data centres and tightening data access controls, including third-party independent oversight of our approach.”