NATO has officially banned staffers from downloading the social media app TikTok onto their NATO-provided devices, citing security concerns, according to two NATO officials familiar with the matter.
NATO officials sent a note to staff on Friday morning announcing the ban, the officials said. The note made the ban official, but TikTok was not really usable on NATO-issued devices before, anyway, the officials said, because of internal tech restrictions.
“Cyber security is a top priority for NATO. NATO has robust requirements for determining applications for official business use. TikTok is not accessible on NATO devices,” a senior NATO official told CNN.
NATO is the latest governmental body to ban the app over concerns that the Chinese government could have access to TikTok users’ data through its Chinese parent company, Bytedance. The US, UK, Norway, European Parliament and other nations have already banned the app from government-issued devices.
TikTok’s CEO Shou Chew stressed to US lawmakers earlier this month that the company is completely independent from Beijing, and said that he has “seen no evidence that the Chinese government has access to that data; they have never asked us, we have not provided it.”
He added that TikTok is moving its data into the US, to be stored on US soil by the American company Oracle.
“So the risk would be similar to any government going to an American company, asking for data,” he said.
Still, western governments remain skeptical.
TikTok should be “ended one way or another,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Congress earlier this month in a separate hearing, on the same day Chew was testifying. “Clearly, we, the administration and others are seized with the challenge that it poses and are taking action to address it.”
CNN has reached out to TikTok for comment.