The Netherlands is joining the bandwagon to prohibit TikTok from being installed on government phones, but it isn’t singling out the app.
In a proactive measure to enhance data security for central government employees, the Dutch government is now discouraging the use of apps from countries with an offensive cyber program against Dutch interests on their work devices.
This decision follows the lead of the United States, Britain, and the European Union's executive branch, which have also banned the use of apps like TikTok on government staff phones due to data security concerns.
The new policy is a response to an assessment by the national intelligence agency AIVD, which identified a heightened risk of espionage from apps originating in countries such as China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran, the Associated Press reported.
“For civil servants employed by the national government, it is immediately discouraged to have apps from countries with an offensive cyber program against the Netherlands and/or Dutch interests installed and used on their mobile work devices,” the government said in a statement without mentioning TikTok or its parent company ByteDance.
The government policy follows prompts from lawmakers who asked if it was possible to ban central government staff from having the app installed on their work phones.
Dutch Minister for Digitalization Alexandra van Huffelen emphasized the importance of this decision, stating that it "goes beyond discouraging one application." The government is planning to configure all mobile devices issued to central government staff to only allow the installation and use of pre-permitted apps, software, and functionalities.
The push to ban TikTok has sparked concerns that any laws created to force the company’s dissolution and ban in the United States could be used to clamp down on free speech online, and be used to shut down other apps — including Twitter and Telegram.