The Flemish government is blocking access to the Chinese social media app TikTok on the computers and smartphones of government staff, effective immediately, announced the digitalisation agency of the Flemish government, Digital Flanders.
In Belgium, Europe and beyond, there has been a lot of unrest about the social video app TikTok, as governments and privacy experts are arguing that the app does not handle users' personal data securely – there are even fears that the app could be used for spying. In the United States, Canada and several European institutions, the app has already been banned for government employees.
Earlier this week, Federal Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne stated that TikTok should be banned for all government staff and Flemish Minister for Interior Administration Bart Somers on Thursday called on local governments to ban TikTok on staff members' work phones.
Now, action is being taken at the Flemish level: Digitaal Vlaanderen (under the authority of Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon) decided to "immediately block access to the app TikTok for all authorities using the common IT services and network of the Flemish government."
- European Commission staff told to delete TikTok from work phones
- TikTok to store European users' data locally from this year
- Belgian Government requests risk analysis of TikTok
"Network traffic to the social media platform will be blocked and the app will be disabled on computers and smartphones," Belga News Agency reports.
Government departments that organise their own IT are also advised to take the same measures "and urge their employees to remove the app," said Johan Smekens of Digital Flanders.
"It is important that all government employees are aware of the risks," he said. "Information security is a duty and responsibility of everyone in the organisation. Therefore, we advise all entities to follow this ban and urge their employees to do so."