Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo on Friday banned federal officials from using TikTok on their work phones, making it the latest country to crack down on the Chinese app.
The governing institutions of the European Union have also told staff in recent weeks to remove the app from smartphones and laptops used for work purposes.
“We must not be naive: TikTok is a Chinese company that is currently required to cooperate with Chinese intelligence services,” De Croo said.
“Thats the reality”.
A TikTok spokesperson said on Friday: “We are disappointed with this suspension, which is based on basic misinformation about our company.
“TikTok is not a Chinese company. Our parent company is also incorporated outside of China and is majority owned by global institutional investors.”
Their user data was not stored in China, the spokesperson added.
“The Chinese government cannot force another sovereign nation to provide data stored on that nation’s territory.
“We are available to meet with officials to address any concerns and set the record straight on misconceptions.”
The Belgian measure, in place for a preliminary six months, follows a risk assessment of potential espionage by the country’s cybersecurity and intelligence agencies.
It does not cover the use of the video-sharing application on the personal phones of public officials, ministers or legislators.
Western powers, including the European Union and the United States, have taken an increasingly tough approach to the app, owned by the Chinese company ByteDance.
TikTok launched a new push to calm European security concerns on Wednesday, saying it was working with a third-party European security firm to monitor and verify how it handles data.
TikTok says that its European user data will be stored in two centers in Dublin and one in Norway from 2023.