Intelligence expert Kenneth Lasoen thinks it is a good idea that the European Commission bans the Chinese social media platform TikTok for its employees. “The fear that it can be used for espionage is very justified,” he says in “The world today” on Radio 1. He advises against using the app, even for those who do not have access to sensitive information. “It was made to make people stupid and keep them stupid.”
This morning the Commission sent an email to all EU officials asking them to remove TikTok as soon as possible. Those who fail to do so will eventually lose access to their emails or work software. The measure applies to all business phones and to personal devices if they contain work-related apps.
The measure should increase cybersecurity. Isn’t that a bit exaggerated for an app that is mainly used to make, share and watch fun – and musical – movies? “No”, says Lasoen, “it even took a very long time”. In the United States, the app has long been banned on all federal government devices.
So what exactly is the possible danger of the Chinese app? “TikTok requires an incredible amount of access to other applications and data on your smartphone that are not directly related to the functioning of the app. Then the question is, of course, what will that data be used for?”
According to the expert, they use that data to draw up a complete psychological and behavioral profile. “If you are a senior official, this could potentially be used to manipulate or coerce you into working for the Chinese government.”
“Potentially more dangerous” than other social media
Other social media also collect a lot of information and that is not always kosher or with good intentions. Think of the Cambridge Analytica scandal a while back when Facebook information was massively used to influence elections. “That’s how they convinced the British to vote for Brexit,” says Lasoen.
Still, TikTok is “potentially more dangerous” for many experts. “There is a direct line between the company and the Chinese government,” says Lasoen. “The espionage potential is great. The question is also to what extent TikTok can remotely activate your microphone or camera. The fact that it has access to your location can also be abused to put people under concrete pressure or to imitate them.”
He therefore advises anyone who comes into contact with sensitive information to handle the app with care and perhaps not even use TikTok at all. “Think of police officers or those who work at customs,” says Lasoen.
“You better be careful in the private sector too, because China is very committed to stealing trade secrets,” the expert continues. “In general, it’s an app made to make people stupid and keep them stupid. So it’s not good for anyone to use.”
Hidden side of TikTok
For example, according to Lasoen, TikTok would be used to keep an eye on journalists who, for example, report on politics in China. It’s not just about possible censorship. “The profile of such a journalist can also serve as a template, with which they train intelligence agents to infiltrate certain sectors – such as journalism.”
Admittedly, those concerns seem a bit extreme or a bit over the top and according to Lasoen, the Chinese government is just taking advantage of that. “People dismiss this as paranoia or even racism. The Chinese present themselves as the most bona fide actor on the international scene. And TikTok is supposed to be there just so people can have fun, but this comes with a hidden side that they never want to talk about.”
Source : Vrt nws