TikTok banned from UK government phones

“The security of sensitive government information must come first,” said Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden

TikTok has been banned from UK government phones over security concerns around the Chinese-owned app.

In a statement to parliament today (March 16), Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden said the video sharing app – which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance – would be banned with immediate effect.

Describing it as a “precautionary” but “prudent” measure following a review by the National Cyber Security Centre, Dowden said (via BBC): “The security of sensitive government information must come first”.


TikTok on a tablet. CREDIT: Marina Bogachyova / Alamy Stock Photo

He added that the ban would not extend to personal phones belonging to ministers or civil servants because the response was “proportionate” to the “specific risk” associated with government devices.

“However, as is always the case, we do advise individuals to practise caution online and to consider each social media platform’s data policies before downloading and using them.”

The move brings the UK in line with the US and European Commission, and comes after UK security minister Tom Tugendhat asked the NCSC to look into TikTok amid potential security risks earlier this week.

He told Sky News that it was “absolutely essential” to keep the UK’s “diplomatic processes free and safe”.

TikTok has strongly denied allegations that it supplies the Chinese government with data from the app.


Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner, while welcoming the ban, accused the government of being “behind the curve” and “closing the stable door after the horse has bolted”.

TikTok. CREDIT: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Earlier this month, the US House Foreign Affairs Committee voted 24 to 16 to give President Joe Biden the power to enforce a national ban on TikTok.

The Biden administration has now threatened to ban TikTok in the US unless Chinese owners sell their stakes.

Elsewhere, former tech minister Damian Collins claimed that TikTok’s “iron grip” could risk musicians losing out on royalty payments.

“We cannot quietly stand by and let ByteDance and TikTok stifle our world-leading creative sector with their Chinese technological iron grip while enriching themselves from it. This suffocation of creative and commercial freedom must not be allowed to go any further – it must not be allowed to happen here in the UK,” he said.

He continued: “It doesn’t seem too much to ask… for TikTok to let users keep accessing the music they love and to treat creators fairly.”

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