UK Parliament Closes TikTok Account Following Pressure From Lawmakers

By Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou is a freelance writer mostly covering UK news for The Epoch Times.
August 3, 2022 Updated: August 4, 2022

The UK Parliament has closed its newly set up TikTok account after lawmakers wrote to the speakers raising security concerns over the Chinese app.

In an email to The Epoch Times, a spokesperson for UK Parliament confirmed that it is closing the “pilot” account earlier than planned “based on member feedback.”

“The account was a pilot initiative while we tested the platform as a way of reaching younger audiences with relevant content about Parliament,” the statement said.

The week-old account has been locked and its content was deleted.

Its 141 followers can see an updated bio that reads “This account is now closed. Find us at www.parliament.uk,” while others are greeted with “No bio yet,” and “This account is private.”

Former Conservative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, one of the lawmakers who sounded the alarm, said, “We are pleased that Parliament, immediately [after] they were told, understood there was a problem and shut it down.”

He told the PA news agency that it’s “important” for others to look at the issue and that “we need to start talking to people about not using TikTok.”

A TikTok spokeswoman said: “While it is disappointing that Parliament will no longer be able to connect with the millions of people who use TikTok in the UK, we reiterate the offer to reassure those Members of Parliament who raised concerns and clarify any inaccuracies about our platform.”

On July 27, Parliament promoted the new TikTok account on Twitter, saying it was going to publish “news and behind-the-scenes content from the Elizabeth Tower,” starting with a video on “where’s the best spot to get your best selfie with the famous Tower.”

On the following day, four lawmakers sanctioned by Beijing for being vocal about human rights abuses in Xinjiang, wrote a joint letter to the speakers of the two houses of Parliament, saying the data security risks associated with the app, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, are “considerable.”

In the letter, Conservative MPs Nusrat Ghani, Duncan Smith, Tim Loughton, Tom Tugendhat, Crossbench peer Lord David Alton, and Labour peer Baroness Helena Kennedy said Chinese companies are “required to yield data” to the authorities upon request and “may not reveal that they have done so when asked” under the communist regime’s 2017 Intelligence Security law.

The lawmakers said TikTok executives were unable to reassure MPs on the Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy Select Committee that “the company could prevent data transfer to ByteDance, should the parent company make a request for it.”

They urged the speakers to remove the account until they have determined “whether or not the company misled Parliament, and until credible assurances can be given that no data whatsoever can be transferred to China.”

Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou is a freelance writer mostly covering UK news for The Epoch Times.