The VVD is going to delete the party’s TikTok account. The party says it no longer thinks it wise to use the popular app because of espionage risks. The VVD has almost 100,000 followers on TikTok.
The social media app of the Chinese company Bytedance has been under fire for some time. There is a fear that the Chinese government can watch what TikTok users are doing.
At the end of February, the AIVD warned in an advisory of “increased espionage risks” of apps that are managed in countries with “an offensive cyber program aimed at the Netherlands”. The intelligence service cited China, Russia, Iran and North Korea as examples. According to the AIVD, TikTok is “a current example” of an app to which the warning applies.
At the end of last month, the cabinet decided to ban TikTok on the work phones of government officials for that reason. Large municipalities and provinces are also considering banning the app from business devices.
Not gone in a minute
VVD MP Queeny Rajkowski, who announced the departure of TikTok’s party this morning in, among other things, a TikTok video, says that the account will be deleted next week at the latest. “At first we wanted to distribute this video, also to explain to our followers what the risks are,” she explains. “So we’re not going to get rid of it right away. First an awareness campaign: we have many followers, which means we can reach a lot of people.”
In last month’s campaign for the provincial elections, the VVD, BBB (also almost 100,000 followers), GroenLinks (almost 50,000 followers) and Forum for Democracy (almost 30,000 followers) regularly posted videos on their TikTok account.
If the AIVD advice had come out earlier, the VVD might have stopped using TikTok earlier, also for the campaign, says Rajkowski. “But he was already busy then.” Moreover, the VVD did not want to take any chances and was first informed by experts, including about the influence of social media on young people. Today in the House of Representatives there is a round table discussion on the subject, in which MPs are updated by experts.
Ultimately, the VVD hopes that the security risks of apps from countries such as China will be investigated more broadly. “Now TikTok is explicitly mentioned and you really can’t help but get off, but we also want more information about other social media and espionage danger,” said Rajkowski.
Other parties have also spoken out against TikTok. Last week, D66 argued for a ban on the app on work phones of members of parliament, to prevent “sensitive information from leaking uncontrolled to China”. The ChristenUnie wants a complete ban on the app, which is especially popular among young people.
TikTok itself has always denied that Chinese authorities can access user data.
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