Dutch officials told not to install TikTok

AMSTERDAM (AFP): The Dutch government on Tuesday advised officials not to install the Chinese-owned video app TikTok or use social media from other countries with “offensive” cyber programmes.

Following similar moves by other Western nations, the Dutch eventually want to ban “spy-sensitive” apps from countries like China, Iran, North Korea and Russia altogether from phones used by civil servants.

Dutch digital minister Alexandra van Huffelen said the decision followed a recommendation by the country’s secret service (AIVD) which found such apps posed “an inherent espionage risk.”

“The first step is to immediately discourage civil servants… from having apps installed and using them on their mobile work equipment from companies in countries with an offensive cyber programme against the Netherlands,” she said.

The Netherlands then planned to issue officials with mobile phones that only allow the installation of pre-approved apps and software, Van Huffelen added in a letter to parliament.

The move was based on consultation with the European Union, she said.

TikTok is hugely popular worldwide for sharing short, viral videos.

But governments in Britain, the United States, Canada and New Zealand have banned TikTok on work devices, as has the European Commission.

Global action against TikTok kicked off in earnest in India in 2020.

TikTok has admitted ByteDance employees in China accessed details of US accounts but it has always denied turning over data to the Chinese authorities.

US President Joe Biden has threatened to ban the app outright unless TikTok separates from ByteDance.