Rishi Sunak has hinted that the UK could follow in the footsteps of the US and European Union by banning popular social media app TikTok on government phones and devices.
The Prime Minister said the UK will “see what our allies do” when it comes to verifying the presence of the Chinese-owned video-sharing platform for staff gear.
Washington and the European Commission have already taken steps to ban the app on devices given to employees or personal phones used for work.
The Conservative Party leader’s suggestion comes after senior backbenchers urged him to follow the lead of the US and Brussels.
Mr Sunak told the BBC during a visit to San Diego, US: “We do not routinely comment on such matters.
“But what I would say, of course, is that we take device security seriously.
“And we’re also looking at what our allies are doing, and we’re in the process of doing all of that.”
He told ITV News that ministers “take the use of government IT very seriously”.
The Prime Minister reiterated his statement about considering allied action, adding: “We want to make sure we protect the integrity and security of sensitive information.
“And we will always do that and take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that that happens.”
It comes after the Sunday Times reported that experts from GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Center had assessed the app and identified risks to sensitive information.
The newspaper report indicated that while ministers and officials are not being asked to remove the app from their personal devices, advice is expected to be given to explain the risks.
Security officials have raised concerns about the app’s information being shared with the Chinese government.
The European Commission said it had banned the device on personal devices after “careful” analysis, but did not say what information the directive was based on.
TikTok has long argued that it doesn’t share data with China.
However, Chinese intelligence legislation requires firms, including tech giants, to assist the Communist Party and its intelligence agencies when called upon to do so – a policy some China critics fear could see Western data leaked to Beijing.
Parliament’s TikTok account was shut down last year after MPs raised concerns about the company’s ties to China.
Still, the app has grown in popularity among politicians in recent years, with some MPs garnering tens of thousands of followers.
Former Health Secretary and reality TV star Matt Hancock is a regular user, while Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary Grant Shapps also has an account.
Nadine Dorries was also known for posting on TikTok when she served as culture secretary during Boris Johnson’s tenure.