National cybersecurity agency deems TikTok a threat to Czechia

The Chinese app is claimed to collect an excess amount of data that pose a threat to both individuals and the country. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 08.03.2023 14:44:00 (updated on 08.03.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

The Czech National Cyber and Information Security Agency (NÚKIB) has today warned Czechs against downloading the Chinese video application TikTok. It has labeled the app a “security threat” and said the public should “think twice” before using it. 

An unwarranted collection of sensitive data

According to NÚKIB, TikTok poses danger to Czechia due to the app’s ability to store substantial amounts of data on its users. These data are not necessarily related to the running of the app. 

NÚKIB today also officially classified TikTok’s threat as “high” to the Czech Republic. It has gone so far as to recommend that the use and installation of TikTok be banned in certain instances, such as for users who have links to sensitive, governmental data.

According to NÚKIB director Lukáš Kintr, the current unstable legal and political environment in China is a large reason for the warning.

"I proceeded to issue the warning on the basis of a comprehensive analysis of information about TikTok that we gained both from public sources and our allies." - Lukáš Kintr

TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, which – according to NÚKIB – downloads the content of users’ private communications, regularly checks the locations of people’s phones, has access to all contacts, and can see sensitive information about the WiFi network to which a device is connected.

"The amount of the data and the way they are collected can serve for targeted cyber attacks, rising the risk of their success," the security agency warned. 

About 2 million people in Czechia use the app. According to analytics platform AppBrain, TikTok is the seventh-most frequently downloaded app on the Czech Google Play Store. The average time users in Czechia spend on the app is 82 minutes per day. Worldwide, it has over 1 billion users.

Continued warnings at home and abroad

Just last week, the U.S. White House ordered all federal authorities to remove TikTok from all government devices within one month. At the beginning of March, the Canadian government began to block TikTok on its state-issued devices.

This is not the first time NÚKIB has had issues with TikTok. Toward the end of February, the security agency issued a warning of caution about the app, making reference to “an excessive collection of data a part of which is not connected with the functioning of the application.” 

The statement today symbolizes a tenser turn in current Czechia-China tensions, which have become ever-more strained recently.

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