NCSC probes TikTok amid reports of imminent ban of government devices

Written by Sam Trendall on 16 March 2023 in News

Security minister confirms intelligence agency is investigating the video app

Credit: Nitish Gupta/Pixabay   Image has been modified

The National Cyber Security Centre is investigating possible risks associated with use of the TikTok amid reports that use of the video app will be banned from government devices.

The security minister Tom Tugendhat has revealed that he has asked the GCHQ-based cyber intelligence unit to conduct a probe of the Chinese-owned app. The assessment takes place following steps taken by various countries – including the US and Canada – to prohibit the use of TikTok on government-issued phones. 

Following reports that a similar move is planned in the UK, prime minister Rishi Sunak told ITV News earlier this week that the government is “looking at what our allies are doing” and what take any steps required to protect the integrity and security of sensitive information”.

Speaking to Sky News, Tugendhat confirmed the ongoing investigation being undertaken by the NCSC.

"Understanding exactly what the challenges that these apps pose, what they are asking for and how they're reaching into our lives is incredibly important,” he said.

Related content

A number of the security minister’s parliamentary colleagues – including former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith and current Foreign Affairs Committee head Alicia Kearns – have called in recent months for the use of TikTok on government devices to be entirely banned.

Duncan Smith and Tugendhat were both among a group of MPs and peers that last year undertook a successful campaign to close down a TikTok account set up by the UK parliament.

The video-sharing app and website is owned by Beijing-headquartered firm ByteDanc and the parliamentarians claimed that “TikTok data is routinely transferred to China”, in a letter written to the speakers of the Houses of Commons and Lords.

“Data security risks associated with the app are the considerable,” the group wrote. “Under the 2017 Intelligence Security Law of the PRC (People’s Republic of China), Chinese companies are required to yield data to the PRC upon request, and may not reveal that they have done so when asked.”

TikTok has repeatedly denied that it has ever given data to the Chinese government or would ever do so.

“Our data is held in the US and Singapore, we are opening and expanding new datacentres in Europe this year and we comply with robust data laws in these jurisdictions, such as GDPR,” a spokesperson said in response to recent criticism.


About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology. He can be reached on

Share this page




Please login to post a comment or register for a free account.

Related Articles

Interview: CDDO chief Lee Devlin on the ‘move from being disruptive to collaborative’
23 May 2023

In the first of a series of exclusive interviews, the head of government’s ‘Digital HQ’ talks to PublicTechnology about the Central Digital and Data Office’s work to unlock £8bn...

UK aid watchdog reveals difficulties caused by FCDO’s ‘dysfunctional’ IT systems
26 May 2023

ICAI annual report says it has been stymied in its ability to recruit people or pay contractors following departmental merger

Government formally unveils annual independent cyber audits for all departments
24 April 2023

Ministerial announcement follows initial examinations of Home Office and business department earlier this year

Former tech minister warns Online Safety Bill could weaken apps’ cyber protection
21 April 2023

Lord Kamall raises concerns over use of client-side scanning technology

Related Sponsored Articles

Proactive defence: A new take on cyber security
16 May 2023

The traditional reactive approach to cybersecurity, which involves responding to attacks after they have occurred, is no longer sufficient. Murielle Gonzalez reports on a webinar looking at...