Ban TikTok from all work devices – is it a good idea?

28th February 2023

As Sky News reports, TikTok has been banned from UK government phones amid security concerns around the Chinese-owned video app. The question to be answered is whether the same should be applied to private sector businesses as well in this age of heightened paranoia about cyber attacks and vulnerability of confidential information.

As Labour MP Oliver Dowden puts it, banning TikTok is just “good cyber hygiene”, and there appears to be agreement across the bench. Conservative MP Alicia Kearns also warns that leaving the app installed on one’s work device exposes personal data to hostile threats.

One such threat is TikTok’s own parent company, Beijing-based ByteDance.  You may remember that in late 2022, employees of ByteDance accessed the personal data of two western journalists in a bid to track them down, misusing their data and breaching a number of applicable data protection laws.

So should employers contemplate following the UK government’s lead on this or are we worrying for nothing?

One can appreciate that many businesses have strong and prosperous UK/Chinese relations, but will restricting Chinese business in the West be perceived as a shot across the bow; souring those relationships and setting the scene for a further iteration of the ‘Trumpianesque’ trade war with China?

From a legal perspective, employers should do all they can to bolster their data protection practices and to safeguard all the personal data and confidential information they process as well as educating all members of staff to be on the alert for cyber security breaches. However, this stance may come into conflict with a company’s commercial objectives and, if it does, the challenge is to discover how a sensible balance can be struck.

SMB’s technology and employment teams are highly experienced in this field and would be more than happy to help should you require our services. Please contact me at for further information and I can direct you depending on your needs.

TikTok banned from UK government phones | Politics News | Sky News