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TikTok thinks Europe won’t move to a full ban on its app – POLITICO

The United States is considering a total ban on the use of the social media app TikTok, but Europe is unlikely to go down that road, the EU’s public policy chief said on Friday. Chinese-owned social media app.

“As far as the public’s freedom of expression is concerned, I think these rules are clear. You would have to have a very strong legal basis to ban any app in any country in Europe,” said Theo Bertram, vice president of government relations and public policy for Europe at TikTok, during the interview. a video call.

Bertram said “there is a clear understanding” among policymakers, experts and politicians he has spoken to in recent weeks that a blanket ban on the use of the social media app in European countries would be “on a completely different level of scale”.

In the United States, the Biden administration banned the application of federal government devices in December. The administration this week ordered TikTok’s Chinese owner, ByteDance, to divest itself of the app or face a possible ban in the United States – a reminder of a similar threat under the previous Donald-led administration. Trump.

The Chinese-owned app has recently faced a barrage of restrictions from Western governments, following concerns from security services that it poses national security risks. In Europe, EU institutions decided in February to ban the application of work-related devices for civil servants, prompting a series of national governments to impose similar restrictions.

TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, is based in Beijing and is owned by several Chinese investors, including ByteDance’s founders, employees and global investors such as a United Arab Emirates company owned by the country’s security adviser.

The company this month launched a charm offensive with European governments, called Project Clover, centered on keeping more European user data on servers in Europe and allowing a European security company expanded access to audit cybersecurity and data protection controls.

Bertram criticized the decisions of EU institutions. He said the European Parliament’s argument contained “fundamental factual inaccuracies”, said the chamber had made “charges against us which could also be applied to other companies” and called the European Commission’s decision of “patient zero”.

“We believe it is reasonable for us to request that we hear the case against us and be given the opportunity to provide our defense even though the sentence has already been handed down,” he said. He added that a “recourse to the law may be limited”, since the decisions were tied to employee policies.

Bertram said the company’s CEO, Shou Zi Chew, sent a letter to the Commission requesting a hearing and that the company’s managing directors responsible for legal affairs, security and data security and privacy European Commission had come to Brussels to try to meet the Commission’s IT department. TikTok hasn’t received “a single response in three weeks,” he said.

A Commission spokesperson said she had already said she was ready to meet with TikTok and that a date needed to be set.

The story has been updated with a comment from the European Commission.

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