THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Netherlands is moving to block central government employees from installing apps, including the popular video-sharing service TikTok, on their work phones amid data security concerns.
Countries including the United States and Britain, as well as the executive branch of the European Union, have banned the use of TikTok on the phones of government personnel over fears that its Chinese owner, ByteDance, could share user data with the authoritarian government of Beijing.
“For civil servants employed by the national government, it is immediately discouraged to install and use apps from countries with a computer program that is offensive to the Netherlands and/or Dutch interests on their mobile work devices,” the government said in a statement on Tuesday. which did not identify TikTok by name. The new policy came after lawmakers asked whether central government staff could be banned from using the app on work devices.
The advice follows an assessment by the national intelligence agency AIVD which warned that apps from such countries – including China, Russia, North Korea and Iran – “carry an increased risk of espionage”.
A law China implemented in 2017 requires companies to provide the government with all personal data relevant to the country’s national security. There’s no evidence that TikTok has handed over that data, but fears abound due to the large amount of user data it collects.
Alexandra van Huffelen, Dutch Minister for Digitisation, said in a statement that the new policy “goes beyond discouraging a single question. We opt for a structural solution that central government officials can trust in their work in a digital world.”
The government said it was planning to move quickly to configure all mobile devices provided to central government staff “so that only pre-authorised apps, software and/or features can be installed and used”.
The decision comes two weeks after the Dutch government angered Beijing by announcing it plans to impose further export restrictions on machines that make chips for advanced processors, joining a US push that aims to limit China’s access to the materials. used to produce these chips.