back to article UK Parliament bins its TikTok account over China surveillance fears

The UK's Parliament has ended its presence on TikTok after MPs pointed out the made-in-China social media service probably sends data about its users back to Beijing. A UK Parliament TikTok account started posting last week, and was promoted as follows: We’re live on TikTok! Follow @UKParliament for news and behind-the- …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Flame

    "Chinese law allows Beijing to compel local companies to produce data"

    Funny how nobody ever mentions that US law allows Washington to compel local companies to produce data.

    Remember National Security Letters ?

    Oh, right. Washington are the Good Guys, so it's all right.

    1. steviebuk Silver badge

      Re: "Chinese law allows Beijing to compel local companies to produce data"

      The difference is you could call Biden a fuck whit if you wanted a not get arrested.

      Call the fucking idiot Xi a fucking idiot or Winnie the Pooh and expect a knock on the door and a trip to prison. That is essentially the difference. Xi was picked because he was a "safe bet" & opening the world to China. Was all a lie and now he's just as bad as Mao.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Chinese law allows Beijing to compel local companies to produce data"

        For now at least. The apparatus is clearly in place to do that, but the dictator? Not yet. The best Trump could do is ban TikTok after its users trolled him.

        Remember General Alexander?

        General Alexander,.... the man who decided mass surveillance laws didn't apply to NSA, they could datamine the US, plug themselves into US cloud networks, slurp down all the private data, run queries on that data, use AI to analyze it...... and he decided that it would only count as surveillance, if his guy actually read the messaging personally and not just his computers.....

        He's the one that said his guys didn't have to obey the "No Spy" agreement with the UK if the data was useful to the US.

        And GCHQ pumped UK citizens data into his cloud, because 'little men follow orders'. They imagine they're part of a bigger loyalty than the UK.

        Well General Alexander is at Amazon now, he's on the board.

        All those commercial secrets in the S3 cloud, imagine how much NSA would pay Amazon for access, and how those could be used to help the US economy.

        All those websites that cross Amazon CDN, certified "true" by Amazon certificates, that could be intercepted if Amazon helped.

        All that stuff you buy, all that media you watch, all that info could be datamined for some wack-jobs crappy AI model. If Amazon simply sold a feed to that data (which would be secret because "National Security" exemption).

        All of that is possible.

        They shoud rename "Alexa" to be "Alexander".

        It's tempting to be complacent, it's tempting to think that USA couldn't have a coup, and yet if Trump had gotten a bigger mob, Pence would assuaged that mob, and SCOTUS would accept dictatorship as a fait-acomplis. Perhaps they foolishly imagine that 4 years later there would be elections? Foolish, there would never be a free election again.

        They've put the mechanisms in place and show such complacency about what they've done.

        1. gandalfcn Silver badge

          Re: "Chinese law allows Beijing to compel local companies to produce data"

          Especially given the evidence of data being deleted, cover ups etc. by senior government members and agencies. The problem is that too many in the USA just don't realise how close they are to a fascist, medieval theocracy, which would be far worse than the CCP and put the Taliban and Al Qaeda to shame.

          The UK has a similar problem with the Tories wanting to outlaw the law.

      2. VoiceOfTruth

        Re: "Chinese law allows Beijing to compel local companies to produce data"

        China has raised hundreds of millions out of absolute poverty. What has the USA done? Enriched a few and shat on the rest.

        1. steviebuk Silver badge

          Re: "Chinese law allows Beijing to compel local companies to produce data"

          Ooo, a wumau with your "Whatabout" come back. China HASN'T raise hundreds of millions out of absolute poverty. That is the bullshit Mao, I mean Xi wants you to believe.

          These guys explain it better than I ever can. Guy on the left Winston lived in China for 15 years, Matt lived just over 10 if I remember right. Both speak and read Chinese. Both have Chinese wives and kids so a very good source of legit info. Both also love China and only got out as Xi started to turn into Mao. its not about the Chinese people, its about the CCP.

          https://youtu.be/R2rehPGalDg

          1. VoiceOfTruth

            Re: "Chinese law allows Beijing to compel local companies to produce data"

            Nice try at denying the truth.

            The truth is that China HAS raised hundreds of millions out of absolute poverty, despite what the YouTube knobhead has to say.

            How's the homeless going in San Francisco and LA?

            1. steviebuk Silver badge

              Re: "Chinese law allows Beijing to compel local companies to produce data"

              So you're def a wumao.

              Have fun with that. Unlike your precious CCP who won't allow differences of opinion, the free world actually allows it. Maybe join it one day, you might like it. Unless of course you're one of those wumaos who takes CCP money to say the shit you do & doesn't care as long as you're getting paid.

            2. gandalfcn Silver badge

              Re: "Chinese law allows Beijing to compel local companies to produce data"

              Don't you just love it when Septics deny facts! I read the interview his experts gave and they are a pair of gullible morons.

              1. ICL1900-G3 Bronze badge

                Re: "Chinese law allows Beijing to compel local companies to produce data"

                Septics? Are you sure?

          2. gandalfcn Silver badge

            Re: "Chinese law allows Beijing to compel local companies to produce data"

            Your "link" links to nothing relevant. I first went to the PRC in 1980 and there was still widespread serious poverty and I spoke to many people who had experienced the changes since 1949. I backpacked around for 3 months. Shortly after, Little Deng's plans to improve infrastructure were being gradually implemented. At the time there were no decent roads or airports and the rail system was a shambles, as for communications One had to wait hours to make a short long distance call. With the improved infrastructure and opening up industry and commerce boomed, as did living standards.

            When did your "experts" on the country go there? 2005 and 2009. They have no idea what life was like before, do they.

            They are also very bigoted and naive.

            "You’ll find an individual who has no redeeming values, somebody who’s actually not a very productive, somebody who has no merits, no achievements. But then they will believe they are really great because China has achieved [a] good economy, or has achieved something great … If I say something critical of China, I’ll get attacked by lots of these people who’ve never done anything, [and the] only redeeming factor in their life is the fact that they were born in China." change China to USA. and that would be correct.

            “the whole push for China to promote nationalism and demonize the rest of the world “ Sounds like USA with its imperialism and hegemony.

            “Since you guys have decided to not sugar-coat your content about China, have you ever experienced backlash for your content whether from Chinese nationals or from the government?

            Matthew: Yeah absolutely. I’d say it’s more from these internet troll type people which we tend to ignore." Amazing, they need to get out more, have a look at Breitbart etc.

            As for WuMao, seems like you are the chisin gweilo equivalent.

        2. LDS Silver badge

          Re: "Chinese law allows Beijing to compel local companies to produce data"

          China found that selling cheap manufacturing to the West would bring in money and technology. There was also a risk it could bring in some democracy but at Tienanmen they showed that those who believed it would have not lived long. How many lives it costed? Moreover was that "absolute poverty" the result of another mad man like Mao? And what about the rural China? Outside the big industrial city the picture is not so good.

          Japan and South Korea raised their quality of life too - and with far more freedom. And let's see what will be of Hong-Kong.... which became slightly richer than China, and how long it can keep that level without the freedom.

          Even Nazism turned a country devastated by the Great Recession into a rich industrial power again - was the price acceptable? Stalin too modernized Russia - for some meaning of "modern" - was the price of his purges acceptable? Germany and Russia could have achieved the same without the need of bloody dictators.

          USA and the West World did raise hundreds of millions out of poverty too. Do you know how people lived, say, two centuries ago? Just they did it along creating democracy, civil and human rights. Those very things that scares dictators to death.

          1. VoiceOfTruth

            Re: "Chinese law allows Beijing to compel local companies to produce data"

            -> creating democracy, civil and human rights

            We saw the civil and human rights in the USA - slavery.

            1. gandalfcn Silver badge

              Re: "Chinese law allows Beijing to compel local companies to produce data"

              And current rampant racism and misogyny and the continuing attempts to turn it into a medieval theocracy

          2. gandalfcn Silver badge

            Re: "Chinese law allows Beijing to compel local companies to produce data"

            What a load of rubbish. Pure propaganda

        3. gandalfcn Silver badge

          Re: "Chinese law allows Beijing to compel local companies to produce data"

          Septics don't like the truth.

      3. Snowy Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        Re: "Chinese law allows Beijing to compel local companies to produce data"

        Funny you think they would knock

        1. gandalfcn Silver badge

          Re: "Chinese law allows Beijing to compel local companies to produce data"

          Who's there?

    2. VoiceOfTruth

      Re: "Chinese law allows Beijing to compel local companies to produce data"

      Indeed. The UK is a good puppy, it does what it is told.

      1. Lis

        Re: "Chinese law allows Beijing to compel local companies to produce data"

        @VoiceOfTruth

        You spelt "puppet" wrong...

    3. SundogUK Silver badge

      Re: "Chinese law allows Beijing to compel local companies to produce data"

      People are constantly mentioning "that US law allows Washington to compel local companies to produce data."

      And the current bunch are definitely NOT the 'Good Guys.'

      1. gandalfcn Silver badge

        Re: "Chinese law allows Beijing to compel local companies to produce data"

        Bush signed a presidential order in 2002 allowing the NSA to monitor, without a warrant, domestic telephone calls and e-mail messages.

        FISA created the kangaroo courts that currently dole out secret FISA warrants to legalise spying on Americans.

        The PRISM surveillance programme.

        The network of “Fusion” centres.

        Ever heard of Snowden?

        The Patriot Act. The Freedom Act.

        The USPS spies on Americans by monitoring their social media.

        The NSA shares data with the FBI.

    4. EnviableOne Silver badge

      Re: "Chinese law allows Beijing to compel local companies to produce data"

      ignore NSLs

      all you need is a CLOUD (Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data) Act warrant

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Creative Alternatives Urgently Desired!!

    Quote: "UK Parliament bins its TikTok account over China surveillance fears"

    In a reasonable world, we might see the following headlines in El Reg:

    (1) "UK Parliament bins its GCHQ links over UK surveillance fears"

    (2) "UK Parliament bins its Five Eyes connections over foreign entity surveillance fears"

    (3) "UK Parliament bins its WiFi over fears that MPs might watch porn"

    (4) "UK Parliament bins its email service over fears that MPs might hear from citizens"

    (5) "UK Parliament bins its plans to ban Palantir from the UK - because we really like Peter Thiel"

    ...and so on. More creative alternatives are welcome!!

    1. gandalfcn Silver badge

      Re: Creative Alternatives Urgently Desired!!

      The Tories are hell bent on destroying all personal freedom, other than for the elite.

      1. cyberdemon Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Creative Alternatives Urgently Desired!!

        s/the elite/themselves/

        So, they want to copy China then, gandalf?

  3. Screwed

    Keep the account!

    I hope they had the wit to retain @UKParliament - simply to stop anyone else using it.

    Having never used TikTok, I really don't know whether you can retain dormant accounts. Comment is based on supposition that you can. Have no intention of going off to find out.

    Find it difficult to understand why anyone thought it a good idea. I mean, Hansard is a stodgy thing to read. But they never thought to make thinks accessible to UK Youth by adding an "In Parliament Today" section to the Beano, or Judy... So why, just because it is "social media", go to TikTok?

  4. Howard Sway Silver badge

    social media service probably sends data about its users back to Beijing

    Well yes. What were they worried about? Location Data : Westminster. User type : Idiot narcissist. Message content : Exactly the same crap they've been spouting to freely available newspapers that day. What the hell is Beijing going to learn from some inane TikTok videos that it doesn't already know about MPs from just reading their Twitter and Facebook pages?

    As for other types of data filched from smartphone mad parliamentarians, who's controlling what other apps MPs have installed on their phones and what permissions they "require" and where the data slurping company behind them is based? My guess is nobody.

    1. Morten Bjoernsvik

      Re: social media service probably sends data about its users back to Beijing

      You give your name and phone number and location data and taste of videos and friends to a chinese company. This is a nice starting point for further data probing.

      Nothing more than Google, Apple, M$ or Meta is doing, but sending it to Beijing.

      1. VoiceOfTruth

        Re: social media service probably sends data about its users back to Beijing

        I am more worried about giving my name, phone number and location data to an American company (read: regime pretending it is a government) than I am giving it to China.

        The UK has decided its place in the world is as a foot stool for the USA. Shameful that "our" politicians think like this.

    2. commonsense
      Joke

      Re: social media service probably sends data about its users back to Beijing

      They probably can't trust their IT security person not to use the same password for Tiktok, Twitter, nuclear launch system, etc.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: social media service probably sends data about its users back to Beijing

        I would have thought that it would be more useful to keep it on an isolated machine and just seed misinformation for it to spy on.

  5. IGotOut Silver badge

    Ideal platform.

    TikTok is mainly used by kids and brain dead, immature, attention seeking, waste of oxygen, morons, who you just want to slap.

    Parliament is full of brain dead, immature....

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Security fears, etc, eh?

    What's this then...?

    https://www.tiktok.com/@10downingstreet

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Security fears, etc, eh?

      Lets create a UK equivalent of TikTok (maybe called DingDong) that parliament could use to report everything that is currently posted on TikTok, Fakebook etc, etc, this would be something that we could have complete control over so you can bet that it would not be used in China. The security risks would be lower.

      1. SloppyJesse
        Joke

        Re: Security fears, etc, eh?

        Quick, get Dido on the phone, we need another world beating app developing...

        We could call it WhiffWhaff...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Security fears, etc, eh?

          SlipShod?

  7. Peter D

    Not a good look

    I, for one, found the Health Secretary twerking as a substitute for giving evidence directly to the Health Select Committee rather unseemly so the closure of this account will bring a little dignity to the functioning of Parliament. If Angela Rayner could close her Only Friends account the voting public could have a new found confidence in our august representatives.

  8. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

    If it's not safe enough for the parliament, then it's not safe enough for anyone to use, and they should ban it outright. Otherwise, let the kids see clips of MPs being behaving like toddlers. Maybe it might get them interested in politics.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Procrastination: Never Heard Of It!!

    Quote: "UK Parliament bins its TikTok account over China surveillance fears"

    Maybe MPs in the UK Parliament need to focus on REAL problems: say "Underfunding of the NHS": say "Building decent railway infrastructure to Leeds and the North": say "Making the behaviour of Owen Paterson completely illegal": and so on.

    But - No - let's just kick a completely irrelevant ball further down the road......

    There is help at hand: Every member of the UK Parliament need to read this:

    Link: "https://www.theguardian.com/science/2022/aug/04/procrastination-expert-guide-book-advice-fuschia-sirois"

    But it's impossible to help people who believe there's nothing wrong with them -- "Procrastination: Never Heard Of It".

    1. Cav Bronze badge

      Re: Procrastination: Never Heard Of It!!

      You do know that people can think of more than one thing at a time and it takes little effort to raise such an issue? Plenty of time to address the NHS. The Tories just don't want to, along with many other things, but idiots keep voting for them.

  10. Cav Bronze badge

    Interesting. I do wonder if this site is composed primarily of anti-Western Chinese agents.

    We are rightly concerned that Google et al track your every move, if you are daft enough to allow them to, but as soon as someone suggests it's a problem that the Chinese government does the same, it's all mockery and whataboutism.

    And for the hard of thinking, the problem isn't the machine used to post the content to Tik Tok but the data collected by the devices reading that content, hence the "we cannot and should not legitimise the use of an app which has been described by tech experts as 'essentially Chinese government spyware". Again, for the hard of thinking, by posting content to Tik Tok, these politicians see it as encouraging the use of an app that almost certainly feeds back to the CCP.

    As for the tone of the article, what are you, teens trying to be "edgy" as you put it?

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      I'm guessing there equivalent FB, twitter accounts?

      (I CBA with social media so not on them to check)

      Which is sending data to the US & potentially available for US govt to spy on.

      So can we have those cancelled via the same logic of data accessible via a foreign power?

      I doubt there's anything useful being sent out on this tiktok- you would hope its not done on personal or govt phone of anyone high up in civil service.

      You would hope social media dross done via internet connected machines that are air-gapped from any important networks / machines and are tightly locked down.

      As for data of various UK tiktok users, they will be on there anyway if they are into such a thing, I cannot imagine presence of a UK parliament tiktok account would have attracted millions of new users to tiktok

      .. meanwhile lots of high profile MPs have social media accounts - wonder if any of those go the Trump approach and use their own phone to send out data - that sort of thing is of far more concern to me.

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