Close-up of TikTok application icon
Close-up of TikTok application iconiStock

The United Kingdom banned TikTok from official government devices on Thursday, adding to similar restrictions imposed by allies in Canada, the European Union and the United States, CNN reported.

The social media app is not widely used by UK officials, according to a government announcement, but the measure reflects concerns about TikTok's links to China through its parent company, ByteDance, and the possibility that the Chinese government could pressure the companies to hand over users' personal information.

"This is a proportionate move based on a specific risk with government devices," UK Cabinet Office Minister Oliver Dowden was quoted as having told lawmakers.

In a statement later on Thursday, TikTok expressed disappointment at the decision.

"We believe these bans have been based on fundamental misconceptions and driven by wider geopolitics, in which TikTok, and our millions of users in the UK, play no part," a spokesperson said, according to CNN. "We remain committed to working with the government to address any concerns but should be judged on facts and treated equally to our competitors."

The UK’s move comes a day after officials in the company said that the Biden administration has demanded that TikTok’s Chinese owners divest their stakes in the popular video app or face a possible US ban.

In August of 2020, then-President Donald Trump signed an executive order giving Americans 45 days to stop doing business with ByteDance, saying Chinese tech operations may be used for spying.

In December, the US House of Representatives Committee on House Administration banned TikTok from all House-managed mobile devices "due to a number of security risks". In addition, more than 20 US states have banned TikTok from government devices.

In late February the White House gave government agencies 30 days to ensure they do not have TikTok on federal devices and systems.

Several days later, the US House Foreign Affairs Committee voted along party lines to give President Joe Biden the power to ban TikTok.

The company has said it is voluntarily working to address the security concerns by taking technical and bureaucratic measures to wall off US and EU user data from its global operations. It has also said that it has not received any request from the Chinese government for user information and would resist such calls.