The TikTok bans continue to pile up, with the BBC in the UK issuing a directive to staff to restrict their use of the app, and only install TikTok on a BBC corporate device if there’s a ‘justified business reason’ for such.
As you can see in this screenshot, shared by social media expert Matt Navarra, the BBC is advising staff that if they don’t need TikTok for work purposes, it should be deleted from their corporate device completely. As such, the BBC isn’t banning TikTok outright – and worth noting that the BBC account on TikTok has over 4.4 million followers, and posts every other day. But it is looking to limit potential exposure in the app, in line with the UK Government’s decision to ban the app from all government devices last week.
Which makes sense. The BBC is, in part, funded by the UK Government, so there is a direct connection in that sense. But also, given that the BBC is a critical news source for many people, there’s potential for its reporters and staff to be influenced by manipulation operations, if you are to consider the premise that the Chinese Government can extract data from TikTok for its own purpose.
That’s the pervading concern – under China’s cybersecurity laws, any Chinese-owned company must share data on its users at the request of the CCP. The issue, then, is that TikTok data could be used to uncover potential vulnerabilities in user targets, which could see the CCP using TikTok insights to apply pressure to government officials or media entities, based on whatever info they might be able to extract from related TikTok accounts.
Which may not seem like a significant vector for concern, but maybe, if they could glean information on someone’s kids, their location data, their personal info, etc. It is possible that this type of information could provide an overview of vulnerabilities on potential targets, which is why it makes some sense to see government, and now government-affiliated media, re-considering their usage of the app.
Ongoing tensions with the Chinese Government over its support of Russia in its conflict with Ukraine, as well as its own military operations infringing on neighboring regions, has prompted steadily increasing concerns among UN nations. The question now is whether the issues with data collection from TikTok should expand beyond government and media staff, and whether regular users should also be considered as potential vulnerabilities in the broader information war that could result from such.
That could see TikTok banned outright, in many regions. We’re not at that stage yet, but reports have suggested that the US Government has already called on TikTok to divest from its Chinese ownership, or be banned outright in the region.
We’ll learn more this week, with TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew set to appear before the US House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday, which many consider to be the key meeting that will make or break the app in the US.
And if America bans it, you can expect many other regions to follow suit.
And either way, you may see TikTok bans expanding to many more corporate and media entities over the coming days and weeks.