The UK parliament has closed its TikTok account one week after opening it as MPs raised security concerns over China in a letter.
Members of Parliament sanctioned by China argued that the government in Beijing uses the social media app as spyware, the Financial Times has reported. ‘Based on member feedback’ the UK parliament closed the account only one week after creating it. “The account was a pilot initiative while we tested the platform as a way of reaching younger audiences with relevant content about Parliament”, the BBC quoted a UK parliamentarian spokesman.
A TikTok spokeswoman has reportedly offered to reassure concerned MPs stating the social media firm is willing to “clarify any inaccuracies about [their] platform”.
Among the concerns raised in the joint letter sent last week, MPs including Nusrat Ghani, Sir Ian Duncan Smith and Tom Tugendhat had pointed out the restrictions imposed by the US government in 2020 and additional call to review security in light of “additional vulnerabilities”. The letter then highlighted the 2017 PRC Intelligence Security law which requires Chinese companies to yield data to the Chinese if requested with no obligation to reveal when this has taken place.
The letter requested to remove the account until “credible reassurances can be given that no data whatsoever can be transferred to China”. However, reassurances from Theo Bertram, VP of government relations at TikTok Europe, may not satisfy concerns as Bertram has reportedly claimed access to data was “strictly controlled”, adding data can only be accessed with the right permissions and “only for a limited time and only for the correct data that you need to access”, according to the Financial Times.
Such watered-down attempts to ‘reassure’ are likely to fall on deaf ears. National security concerns over Chinese tech meant the UK banned 5G equipment from the country’s mobile network back in 2020, and TikTok could well start to feel similar pressures in the UK.