Social Navigation

TikTok has now been banned from work phones in Belgium due to security risks


Belgian Prime Minister Alexandre de Croo said on Friday that employees of the Belgian federal government will no longer be allowed to use the Chinese-owned video app TikTok on their work phones.

De Croo said Belgium’s National Security Council had warned of the risks associated with the large amounts of data collected by TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, and the fact that the company is required to cooperate with Chinese intelligence services.

“This is the reality,” the prime minister said in a statement.

“This is why it makes sense to block the use of TikTok on phones provided by the federal government. The safety of our information must prevail.”

TikTok said in a statement that it was disappointed with the decision, which it said was based on “fundamentally false information”.

The company said it stores user data in the United States and Singapore and is building data centers in Europe.

“The Chinese government cannot force other sovereign states to share data stored on their territory,” a company spokesperson said.

The European Commission and European Parliament last month banned TikTok from employees’ phones over growing concerns about the company, and whether the Chinese government could collect users’ data or advance its interests.

Beijing regularly denies such intentions.

Belgium’s Flemish regional government announced Thursday that it will restrict access to TikTok on employees’ phones, and De Croo urged other regional governments to apply the same rules.

The video-sharing app has already been banned from work phones in the US and Canada, while in India it has been banned entirely.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

Affiliate links may be generated automatically – see our Ethics Statement for details.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.