Belgium bans TikTok from federal government work phones

AFP / Chris Delmas

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

De Croo said the Belgian national security council had warned of the risks associated with the large amounts of data collected by TikTok, which is owned by Chinese firm ByteDance, and the fact that the company is required to cooperate with Chinese intelligence services.

"That is the reality," the prime minister said in a statement.

"That's why it is logical to forbid the use of TikTok on phones provided by the federal government. The safety of our information must prevail."

TikTok in a statement said it was disappointed with a decision it said was based on "fundamentally wrong information".

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

"The Chinese government can't force other sovereign nations to share data that is stored in their territory," a spokesman for the company said.

The European Commission and the European Parliament last month banned TikTok from staff phones due to growing concerns about the company, and whether China's government could harvest users' data or advance its interests.

Beijing has regularly denied having any such intentions.

Belgium's Flemish regional government on Thursday announced it would restrict access to TikTok on staff phones, and other regional governments were urged by De Croo to apply the same rules.

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