According to the US government, TikTok must be sold to avoid being banned from the nation. This is a representational image. antonbe/ Pixabay

As a result of deteriorating ties with Beijing, Britain will soon join the U.S. and the European Commission in banning the Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok from ministers' and civil employees' mobile phones.

According to the U.S. government, TikTok must be sold to avoid being banned from the nation.

Oliver Dowden, a Cabinet Office minister, made the statement on Thursday in the Commons on behalf of the UK government. The ban, he declared, was "with immediate effect."

The choice was made in response to a government cybersecurity expert review of TikTok that started in November, according to Dowden, and it only applies to the work phones of ministers and other public employees.

He continued, "Based on a specific risk with government devices, this is a proportionate step.

Iain Duncan Smith, a Conservative MP who has frequently raised security concerns about China, said ministers' and officials' personal phones also should be covered by a ban because "private phones will remain on their desks".

"The point I'd make is you can't stop there," he continued.

But in answer, Dowden said there was "a balance the government has to try to get right".

He claimed that the regulations stating that only official government devices should be used for conducting important government business were communicated to ministers.

According to the UK Cabinet Office, users of TikTok must grant the app permission to access data saved on their devices, which is then collected and stored by the company.

The business has access to a variety of data, including contacts, user content, and geolocation information, when such permissions are granted. Dowden said this justified the ban, The Guardian reported.

TikTok is owned by China-based ByteDance, the world's most valuable start-up.

The app is accused of presenting a national security risk through data gathered from millions of users.

TikTok verified a request for a change in ownership to BBC News after it was first reported in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

According to the business, a forced sale would not alter data flows or access.

American officials have long expressed worry that the Chinese government might obtain access to the popular app's data, reports BBC.

According to the WSJ, U.S. President Joe Biden's administration wants ByteDance to divest itself of TikTok to create a clear break from China.

The newspaper said, ByteDance was unanimously advised to divest from TikTok by the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS), which monitors national security threats.

A TikTok spokesperson verified that CFIUS had contacted the company and stated that TikTok did not contest the WSJ's reporting.

"If protecting national security is the objective, divestment doesn't solve the problem: a change in ownership would not impose any new restrictions on data flows or access," the spokesperson said.

"The best way to address concerns about national security is with the transparent, U.S.-based protection of U.S. user data and systems."

Given the previously stated bans, Labour's Angela Rayner charged that the government was "behind the curve with sticking plaster solutions" and questioned why the "specific risk" only applied to central government phones and tablets.

"Can he say if there were any discussions during this process about the use of private messaging such as WhatsApp and email by ministers?" Rayner asked MPs.

Dowden replied by saying that ministers received "extensive advice when they take office" and that the government was updating its guidance on private messaging by ministers, The Guardian reported.

Another spokesperson claimed that the news was exaggerated and that it was unclear what "divestiture" actually meant in daily life.

"We believe these bans have been based on fundamental misconceptions and driven by wider geopolitics, in which TikTok, and our millions of users in the UK, play no part," a TikTok spokesperson said the company was disappointed.

"We remain committed to working with the government to address any concerns," the spokesperson added.

In 2020, when Donald Trump was still the president, a ban was first proposed.

However, the Biden government also negatively views the social media platform.

Like Instagram and Twitter, TikTok collects much info on its users.

It has access to position data and can collect biometric information from users. There is concern that the Chinese government might receive the material.

According to TikTok, as part of an initiative it calls Project Texas, the company has attempted to transfer all data with U.S. origins to the U.S.

The change occurs a week after new senate legislation that could give the president more power to outlaw TikTok nationally was revealed.

The U.S. Commerce Department would be able to identify foreign-affiliated businesses as national security threats thanks to the Restrict Act.

In the U.S., Canada, and the EU, TikTok is prohibited on government phones.

In a highly anticipated showdown, its CEO, Shou Zi Chew, is scheduled to appear before the U.S. Congress the following week.

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