TikTok should be banned from Oireachtas staff devices on security grounds, an MEP has urged.
The video sharing app has been downloaded 3.5 billion times but has been dogged by claims that it is a security risk.
TikTok is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance and in 2020 the US Government alleged its data collection could potentially allow the Chinese Government to "track the locations of federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage".
The app has been banned in India and on Tuesday the European Parliament “strongly recommended” staff delete the app from their phone.
Midlands-North-West MEP Colm Markey believes the Oireachtas should go one step further and bring in a formal ban.
“Ireland would be recognised as the tech capital of Europe and I think we should take the lead and show a bit of leadership in this space,” he said.
“From an Irish perspective, we have an awful lot of jobs tied up in the tech sector and I suppose we need to ensure that we set standards on that as well and show the whole of Europe if you like that we are out front in terms of both of the industry as a whole - but also the imagination of the industry.”
Mr Markey added that if Beijing changed the law so it no longer had a right to demand data from Chinese companies, western countries would take a different attitude to app.
“If the data is being passed to the parent company, there’s every chance the Chinese Government could seek that data in due course,” he said.
“That’s what we need clarity around and if we can get those assurances and make sure that is quite clear, the restrictions could be withdrawn.
“But until we get that information, I think we need to err on the side of caution.”
TikTok’s European headquarters is in Dublin and last year it announced plans to hire an additional 1,000 staff, increasing its Irish workforce to 3,000.