Irish Government advised to not have TikTok on work devices

21 Apr 2023

Image: © Tada Images/

Ireland looks set to join multiple countries worldwide, which have banned the app on government devices due to data sharing concerns.

Ireland’s security watchdog has advised Government to not let its staff use TikTok on official devices due to cybersecurity concerns.

Ireland’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has issued the guidance amid global concerns that TikTok – owned by Chinese company ByteDance – might be sharing user data with the Chinese government.

Speaking to RTÉ’s News at One, NCSC director Richard Browne said the issue surrounding TikTok is not “what we know to be happening, the issue is what we can’t rule out is happening.”

Browne also said the approach being taken is “precautionary in measure” and that the centre is not calling for a full ban, as the risk is to “public data”.

He added that the app doesn’t appear to have “particularly apparent vulnerabilities” and that it doesn’t differ “from many social media applications”.

“However, it does have extremely high permissions,” Browne said. “It also gathers and stores very large amounts of user data, including sensitive personal data.”

In a meeting in Cork today (21 April), Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, TD, said the Government has to “take the advice of cybersecurity experts” but noted the move could be “reversed”, RTÉ reports.

A growing trend

Speaking on the result, Michael Covington, portfolio strategy VP of cybersecurity company Jamf, noted that the advice follows the trend of other governments including the UK, US and Australia.

“This also reflects a wider global trend seen among organisations in deciding to ban the social media app on company devices, especially with our public sector customers,” Covington said. “Our data shows that the percentage of TikTok connections being blocked by our public sector customers globally increased from 10pc in June 2022 to 65pc in December 2022.”

Similar moves have been taken in the European Commission, while France, New Zealand and Canada have also issued a government bans.

US lawmakers have also threatened to issue a full ban on TikTok, unless its parent company ByteDance sells its shares in the US version of the app.

A TikTok spokesperson told last month that a change in ownership isn’t a security solution as it “would not impose any new restrictions on data flows or access”.

The social media app is also facing a full ban in the US state of Montana, though TikTok has hinted it will take legal action against this decision.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic