Conservative deputy Alicia Kearns, chair of the parliament’s foreign affairs committee, urged people in a Sky News interview not to use the social media app TikTok over data security concerns.
“There is a reason why China has this app,” she expressed. “Our data is a key vulnerability and China is building a tech-totalitarian state on the back of our data, so we have to get far more serious about protecting ourselves."
Kearns explained that her concern lies in China’s “data penetration” through the use of Chinese companies, and how Beijing utilized this data to intimidate “those who sought refuge in the UK and around the world.”
When asked if users should delete TikTok, Kearns responded without question that they should. “It is not worth having that vulnerability on your phone,” she adds.
The conservative deputy has long been criticizing China’s intel activities, claiming it is an abuse of technology.
Amid data concerns, Kearns also mentioned the incident that took place on the U.S. Atlantic coast, where U.S. officials shot down a Chinese spy balloon. Chinese authorities have since denied the allegations that it was used against the U.S. for espionage.
A TikTok spokesperson responded to Kearn’s allegations, ensuring that the social media platform is enjoyed by millions across the UK and that the company wants users to know that it can be trusted with their data.
"We're taking steps like storing UK user data in our data center operations in Ireland, starting this year; further reducing employee access to data; and minimizing data flows outside of Europe."
TikTok has been under fire in recent months over allegations regarding its data privacy and security practices. U.S. House and Foreign Affairs have plans to vote on a bill that aims to ban TikTok in the U.S., deeming it a threat to national security.
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is also slated to testify in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee this coming March 23, with raised concerns about China potentially pressuring companies like TikTok to provide them with user data.