France is the latest country to take steps to ban TikTok from government-owned devices. Stanislas Guerini, the Minister of Public Transformation and Services, and his services issued a statement announcing the move and the reasoning behind this change.
But there’s a twist: instead of simply banning TikTon, the French government says so all recreational apps are now banned from work devices.
“In recent weeks, several European and international partners have taken measures to limit or prohibit the download and installation of the TikTok application by their government departments,” the French government writes.
For example, the US House of Representatives banned TikTok on government-issued mobile devices from legislators, as did Canada. The European Commission has issued a directive asking all employees to remove TikTok from their work devices as well.
In all these cases, government agencies indicate that they are concerned about the privacy of data. TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a private Chinese company, and these governments believe that user data can be stored and accessed by the Chinese government.
TikTok has said multiple times that the company does not share user data with the Chinese government. The company has tried to reassure European governments by saying it will set up and run multiple data centers to store local users’ data in Europe in the near future.
In addition to this data sovereignty strategy, TikTok is “reducing employee access to European user data; minimizing data flows outside Europe,” wrote Rich Waterworth, TikTok’s general manager operations, Europe.
Of course, it means governments have to trust TikTok’s word, which doesn’t seem to be the case in France. “After an analysis of the interests, especially security, the government has decided to ban from now on the download and installation of recreational applications on professional telephones provided to public agents,” said the Ministry of Public Transformation and Services.
So what exactly is a recreational app? Guerini’s office told AFP and AP news agencies that some of these apps (obviously) include TikTok, as well as Twitter, Instagram, Netflix, Candy Crush and other games, as well as dating apps.
It sounds like a broad and loose concept and I hope we get some clarity on the exact scope of the recreational category. We’ve reached out to Guerini’s office and will update this article when we get more details.
“Recreational applications do not have enough cybersecurity and data protection to be deployed on government equipment. These applications may therefore pose a risk to the data protection of these administrations and their officials,” the French government wrote.
A message has been sent to all ministries. The Interministerial Digital Administration (DINUM) and the Cybersecurity Agency (ANSSI) will provide further instructions on how to implement the ban.
There is one notable exception: if you need to install an app to communicate about your administration’s work, you can. In other words, if you’re a social media manager, you can install Twitter, Facebook and, yes, TikTok.