UK Parliament Closes Down Its TikTok Account After Mps Raise Security Risks

UK Parliament Closes Down Its TikTok Account After Mps Raise Security Risks

By Ben Kerrigan-

The UK Parliament has closed down its TikTok account after MPs raised concerns about security risks associated with the account.

TitTok is owned by a Chinese company, and Mps have raised the risk of data being passed to the Chinese government.

The account has been locked, and content deleted, days after its launch.

Senior MPs and peers had called for the account to be removed until TikTok gave “credible assurances” no data could be handed to China.

The move follows  a number of members writing to the speakers in both the Commons and Lords last week, calling for the social media account to be ditched, saying they were “surprised and disappointed” it had been launched after “recent reports have made clear that… TikTok data is routinely transferred to China”.

The account has been locked, and content deleted, days after its launch.

The lead author of the letter, Tory MP Nus Ghani, tweeted the correspondence, which said that despite being questioned by the business select committee, TikTok executives “were unable to reassure MPs that the company could prevent data transfer” to its parent company, China-based ByteDance.

She said if the firm requested and received it, “Bytedance would be legally obliged to hand over UK data to the PRC [People’s Republic of China] if requested.

The account was set up on the popular app, owned by Chinese parent firm ByteDance, as a way of engaging young people with politics.

Followers of the account are met with an updated bio that reads: ‘This account is now closed. Find us at www.parliament.uk.’

ByteDance is based in China and MPs have raised concerns about user data being sent to Beijing.

Tensions have been rising between Beijing and the West in recent years with Westminster banning Chinese firm Huawei from involvement in the UK’s 5G network.

China has also sanctioned seven MPs and peers who have criticised Beijing over its treatment of the Uighur Muslim minority group – claims China has described as ‘malicious lies’.

The account, which went live on July 27, has been locked and its content has been deleted less than a week on.

A UK Parliament spokesman said: ‘Based on Member feedback, we are closing the pilot UK Parliament TikTok account earlier than we had planned.

‘The account was a pilot initiative while we tested the platform as a way of reaching younger audiences with relevant content about Parliament.’

The decision to remove of Huawei’s 5G equipment from Britain’s mobile networks by 2027 has  prompted fears of a tit-for-tat economic war in 2020.

TikTok said it has written to the MPs who signed the letter, offering to “meet with them to understand their concerns and explain our data protection processes”.

TikTok is a short-form, video-sharing app that allows users to create and share 15-second videos, on any topic. It also allows users to perform or a speech about anything to an unlimited audience.

TikTok maintains a separate app for the Chinese market, known as Duyin, which has over 300 million active monthly users. The new app’s logo is a combination of the Musical.ly and Duyin logos.

In September, TikTok added the reactions feature, which allows users to record their reactions to videos and share. TikTok has also added a digital well-being feature that alerts users when they spend over two hours on the app.

A spokesperson for TikTok said: “While it is disappointing that Parliament will no longer be able to connect with the millions of people who use TikTok in the UK, we reiterate the offer to reassure those members of Parliament who raised concerns and clarify any inaccuracies about our platform.”

Last year China sanctioned UK organisations and several MPs, including Sir Iain, over what it called the spreading of “lies and disinformation” about human rights abuses in its Xinjiang region.

 

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