UK Parliament shuts down its TikTok account over the company’s ties to China | News from politics
The UK Parliament has shut down its TikTok account after MPs raised concerns over allegations the company was sharing data with the Chinese government.
A number of members wrote to speakers in both the Commons and Lords last week calling for the social media account to be shut down. They said they were “surprised and disappointed” that it was launched after “recent reports made it clear that … TikTok data is being routinely transferred to China”.
But TikTok insisted to Sky News that it doesn’t operate in China, has never provided user data to the Chinese government and its user data is stored in the US and Singapore – and will move to Ireland in 2023 when its new data center opens.
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The letter’s lead author, Tory MP Nus Ghani, tweeted the correspondence, which said that despite being questioned by the Business Select Committee, TikTok executives “were unable to reassure MPs that the company was transferring data to its parent company China could prevent”. -based ByteDance.
She said that if the firm requested and received them, “Bytedance would be required by law to hand over UK data to the PRC [People’s Republic of China] If requested”.
The letter, which was also signed by former leader candidate Tom Tugendhat and former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, among others, added: “The prospect of Xi Jinping’s government having access to personal data on our children’s cellphones should be give cause for great concern.”
In response, Sir Lindsay Hoyle and Lord McFall said the account was “an attempt to engage with a younger audience – who are not always active on our existing social media platforms – in relation to Parliament’s work”.
However, they added that they “were not consulted on the plans for this pilot”.
After speaking to officials and seeing the letter, they said: “We have decided that the account should be closed with immediate effect.”
Sir Iain told Sky News he was “over the moon” with the decision, adding: “It should never have opened in the first place but it’s good that they’ve come to their senses.”
Ms Ghani also took to Twitter to thank speakers for “standing up for our values and protecting our data,” adding, “Common sense prevails.”
TikTok said it wrote to the MPs who signed the letter, offering to “meet with them to understand their concerns and explain our privacy processes.”
The social media platform also pointed out that many ministries and politicians use TikTok, including Number 10 and Culture Minister Nadine Dorries.
A spokesman for TikTok said: “While it is disappointing that Parliament will no longer be able to connect with the millions of people using TikTok in the UK, we reiterate the offer to let those Members of Parliament reassure those who have raised concerns and clarify any inaccuracies on our platform.”