TIK OFF: Reflections on the UK Government banning TikTok from their phones

Really interesting development with UK Government banning TikTok from Government phones. It’s prompted me to reflect.

This move by Whitehall follows in the path of US government and other governments across the western world.

You can read the detail here.

Critics say TikTok is Chinese owned and there is a requirement in Chinese law that the Chinese Government are able to access data. The company say that they don’t let them. Critics point out that they could.

I’ve not seen the detail of the concerns and its one for wider public sector people to reflect on. What’s the risk of a foreign entity accessing data on a Minister’s phone? Potentially, quite serious.

However, as far as I can see, the ruling only covers UK Government. Those outside the corridors of power are not covered. Of course, other organisations may take a lead or may weigh up the risks of using it against walling off a substantial growing user base. Ofcom say a majority of under 34s use the platform. It’s in the top three most favourite social apps of of under 54s. It’s a serious player and sceptics would say there’s a reason why California-based Meta have more than 100 people employed in Public Affairs lobbying Washington DC.

In short, if your a Cabinet Minister and there’s a risk of data being accessed then that’s one thing. If you’re Dudley Council or Dudley NHS I’d probably there’s probably less of a global risk.

It poses the question if there is a risk, shouldn’t it be banned for everyone?

But would stopping everyone in the UK from accessing dog, cat, recipe and other videos be politically tricky? And legally litigious?

(Disclaimer: I deliver training on a range of courses including TikTok & Reels).

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