Britons Should Delete TikTok to Protect Data from China, MP Says

All Britons should delete TikTok off their phones to protect themselves from being spied upon by Communist China, a senior MP has said.

Alicia Kearns, the Conservative Party MP who serves as the head of the UK’s foreign affairs select committee warned on Sunday that there was now significant evidence that TikTok was being used to gather the data of individual users in the UK for intelligence purposes.

The MP claims that such information gathering poses a significant threat to those in the UK, with the Tory party politician going on to advise all Britons to delete the app from their phone in order to protect themselves.

“Now this isn’t just me saying ‘I’m worried, delete it’, we have evidence that TikTok has been used to track down sources for journalists,” she told UK broadcaster Sky News during an interview.

Kearns described officials from TikTok as telling her committee that there was no way for workers in China to get their hands on the data of individuals in Britain, which she now believes is not true.

“[W]hat TikTok does is it gives away the data that makes you most vulnerable: who are you friends with; what are your interests; what are the interests you have that you may not want publicly disclosed; who you are having private conversations with; the locations you go to,” Kearns remarked. “There’s a reason why China has this app.”

“Our data is a key vulnerability and China is building a tech totalitarian state on the back of our data, so we have to get far more serious about protecting ourselves,” she added.

The foreign affairs committee chair went on to say that while mysterious Chinese balloons floating above Western skies were also indeed a concern, issues such as “data penetration” and a dependency on Chinese tech firms in everyday life are ultimately far more important.

Kearns’ advice that Britons should “without question” remove TikTok from their phones is not at all unusual at this point, with authorities in both the United States and Europe now regularly warning about the harmful effects of the social media app.

U.S. representatives for instance have been frequent critics of the platform, with Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton becoming one of the latest American politicians to criticise the app last week, describing it as a “threat” to American families and national security.

“[L]et me just speak for a second as a dad, I don’t want an app that steals my daughter’s data and influences their behaviour on their phones,” he told CNN. “That’s exactly what TikTok does. And so, it is a threat, not just to our national security, writ large, but frankly, to American families.”

Meanwhile, the Dutch government has banned the social media site from being installed on government devices, even advising its own civil servants to stay off the platform for fear of its data-gathering potential.

It is reported that authorities in the Netherlands told departments last week to “suspend the use of TikTok for the government until TikTok has adjusted its data protection policy”, with the state to cease all advertising and communications on the China-owned platform.

Follow Peter Caddle on Twitter: @Peter_Caddle
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