Municipality of Amsterdam is going to ban TikTok on work phones; Telegram could be next
The municipality of Amsterdam wants to ban apps such as TikTok from the work phones used by civil servants, said Touria Meliani. The alderman responsible for the issue announced the intention in a letter to the full city council on Tuesday.
With this, the capital is following the Cabinet's lead, which advised government officials against using apps from countries with an "offensive cyber program" against the Netherlands on the basis of a report from intelligence service AIVD. These are countries such as China, Russia, North Korea and Iran, the alderman said, referencing the AIVD.
By refusing such apps, Amsterdam wants to avert "a potential security risk with regard to information security and personal data protection," she said. Other apps, such as the Telegram messaging service, may soon follow, said a spokesperson for Meliani.
The municipality is not currently using the popular video app TikTok for its services, the alderman wrote. The work phones used by civil servants, administrators and city council members have separation between work and private usage of the phone. That meant that up until now, it was possible to install these types of apps in the private portion of the phone. The political leadership including the mayor and aldermen will now oblige employees and council members "to remove the application as soon as possible," the letter stated. The political leadership will also delete the application from their phones.
TikTok is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance. For fear of espionage and influence, other countries have also restricted the use of the app, much to TikTok's dismay. The app claims that it is not controlled by any state or government, despite reports about a state-owned taking a minority stake in the firm with voting rights to overrule other shareholders. A Communist party official also reportedly sits on the company's board of directors.
The Port of Rotterdam Authority has asked employees not to install apps on their work phones that are not necessary for work, and to remove those apps which are unrelated to their jobs. This also includes TikTok. According to a spokesperson, the company is following government guidelines. "Soon it will also be impossible for us to use TikTok on the work phone," said a spokesperson.
The municipality of Rotterdam said it is closely follows the developments surrounding apps such as TikTok. According to a spokesperson for Alderman Maarten Struijvenberg, it is not necessary to immediately ban the app due to the secure working environment on the phones. That said, City Hall is still examining the possibilities for this, and whether the move may be needed in the future.
The municipality of The Hague has announced that employees are not currently restricted regarding what apps they install on their work phones. After the Cabinet's call to action, however, the city will again "take a critical look" regarding the private use of work telephones, a spokesperson said. "There are two options on the table: adjusting the general rules of conduct and banning specific applications. We are investigating what is responsible." According to the spokesperson, this is being done in consultation with other municipalities.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times