LONDON: European Parliament staff have been officially instructed to remove TikTok from work devices due to data protection concerns.
In a note issued Tuesday, the parliament’s president, Roberta Metsola, and the secretary-general, Alessandro Chiocchetti, said the TikTok app must not be installed or used on staff devices such as mobile phones, tablets or laptops from March 20, l’Agence France-Presse reported.
“As of this date, web access to TikTok through our corporate network ... will also be blocked,” the parliament’s directorate-general for innovation and technological support said in the note to around 8,000 of the institution’s employees.
It also “strongly recommended” MEPs and their staff remove TikTok from their personal devices.
China said a ban on the use of TikTok by official EU institutions will harm business confidence in Europe.
“The EU claims to be the most open market in the world, but recently it has been taking restrictive measures and unreasonably suppressing other countries’ companies on the grounds of national security,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said at a daily briefing Wednesday.
“This will dampen the international community’s confidence in the business environment in the EU.
“The EU should match its words with deeds, respect the market economy and fair competition, stop overstretching and abusing the concept of national security and provide an open, fair, transparent and non-discriminatory business environment for all companies.”
The European Commission and the European Council, which represents 27 EU member states, ordered a similar ban on Thursday over cybersecurity fears.
TikTok said the bans were “misguided and based on fundamental misconceptions” and called for “due process and equal treatment,” reported the Associated Press.
The Chinese-owned company added the decision was taken “on the basis of fears rather than facts.”
The ruling Communist Party in China has long blocked many foreign social media platforms and messaging apps, including YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram — and TikTok.
In November, TikTok admitted some staff in China can access the data of European users.
Last week, however, the company insisted it protects the data of its 125 million monthly users in the EU.
The White House on Monday gave federal agencies 30 days to remove TikTok from all government-issued devices after a ban ordered by the US Congress late last year.
On the same day, Canada’s government banned TikTok from all phones and other devices, citing similar data protection concerns.
Denmark’s parliament announced Tuesday it had asked MPs and all staff to remove the app from work phones.
The European Parliament, the European Commission and the EU Council have banned TikTok from being installed on official devices.
EU staffers are required to delete TikTok from devices that they use for professional business by March 15.
TikTok also has come under pressure from the EU to comply with upcoming new digital regulations aimed at getting big online platforms to clean up toxic and illegal content along with the bloc’s strict data privacy rules.