back to article France bans all recreational apps – including TikTok – from government devices

The government of France has banned TikTok – and all other recreational apps – from phones issued to its employees. The nation's ministère de la transformation et de la fonction publiques last Friday issued a statement [PDF] announcing the policy, which minister of transformation and public service Stanislas Guerini justified …

  1. TheMaskedMan Silver badge

    Do all these bans mean that the banning governments (and opposition's) won't have any presence on tiktok, including at election time? Never used it - or even seen it - myself, but an absence of politicians can't be a bad thing!

    1. Catkin

      I doubt most politicians are using social media directly to peddle themselves. It's more likely that everything that goes out is carefully curated (Trump types excepted).

      1. very angry man

        A french man making sense, well I'll be

    2. lglethal Silver badge

      What the Poli's do on their personal phones (or more likely what their social media lackeys do on their personal phones) is completely up to them.

      But I can never understand why people would want any social media programs on a work phone! Work and private life are separate things for f%&ks sake!

      At work, I'm currently unable to use a specific program, because the only way to use it is to link it to a mobile phone for 2FA. I do not have a company phone, and so I refuse to link it to my personal phone. IT's response was to tell me to get a company phone. My managers response to that was that I can get a company phone when it comes out of IT's budget. To be clear, I dont want a company phone, and find it ridiculous that my firm would want people doing anything related to work on a personal device. It's almost certain that my personal phone is not as well protected as a company phone (since I can download any app I want, or open any site I want), so it's just opening up an attack vector against the firm. And I dont want anything from my firm on my personal phone, since that paints a big Target sign on my back for anyone focusing on my firm. Even more annoying since there's a big focus on cyber security at my firm at the moment (due to a supplier being hit by ransomware a couple of months back), and yet bring up a topic like this and you get blank stares...

      Oh well, all the top brass have company phone, so naturally they cant see the problems at all...

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        If it's that high stakes, why can't IT get half-way serious and buy Yubikeys for employees? They start at 25-35 currency units (dollars, pounds, euros...) each and are more secure than any mobile phone.

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Because beancounters have calculated that the cost to the company for BYOD is "free" (Because they ignore all the added costs needed to get anything even remotely secure on whatever random device people will bring in) and 25 to 35 currency units per employee is a hefty chunk of capital gone in an instant.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Then "IT" manglement aren't doing their jobs properly. It's up to them to prove the business case by itemising the cost of secured access to employees own $random phones. Even just the time spent adding users to an exiting InTune or similar management tool and then keeping it up to date as people join and leave the org is a significant ongoing cost. Of course, there will different budgets involved, so the bean counters need to be convinced that no matter the budget it comes from, it's still hitting the bottom line!

            1. imanidiot Silver badge

              You assume the beancounters would listen to IT manglement. I've encoutered cases where decisions are made despite fully itemized cost breakdowns saying it's infeasible because some blowhard has a stiffie, finds a single line item he has a problem with so the whole thing must be bullshit and whatever bullshit they're peddling gets pushed through.

              1. Dan 55 Silver badge

                Or simply many "key decision makers" in the company prefer a new mobile phone to a Yubikey.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This applies to government business phones, not to political parties. And there's still the explicit possibility of using them for official government communication. Spokespeople got to communicate on whatever the platform of the day is.

  2. PhilipN Silver badge

    For security purposes …?

    ..not because they are supposed to be bloody well working?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: For security purposes …?

      It might distract them from joining the riots.

  3. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Removing non-professional apps from professional devices is a good idea.

    Next one: stop that nonsense that is BYOD in governmental agencies.

    1. Korev Silver badge

      Next one: stop that nonsense that is BYOD.


    2. 42656e4d203239 Silver badge

      BYOD is in general a complete nonsense invented to sell more Wifi APs and control software.

      Who would want to connect their personal device to a work network and have corporate IT sniffing all over it? I know I wouldn't (and I am IT who would be doing the sniffing; I don't want to see your dodgy camera reels, weird tastes in Reddit subs or browser search history etc.)


      Why would any company, who values their data and network integrity, allow personal, unvetted, insecure, devices to connect to their network?

      I never mix work and play - if work want me to have a particular device, they pay for it. If they want me to work outside contracted hours, they pay for it. If work supplied devices reduce my productivity that isn't my problem; I make it theirs.

      I think the difficulty many people have with non BYOD networks is they find it hard to distinguish between a want and an need/requirement. Many people want their own gear on the company network becasue it is familiar rather than because it is required to do their job and a non BYOD network removes that warm fluffy option.

      Contracting is rather different - However I think the line between a user want and a job requirement is still rather ill defined.

    3. parlei Bronze badge

      I just saw in the news that the Swedish military was banning (some?) social media apps on their issued phones. And I ask; WTF wants to put their social media stuff on a phone owned by their employer? And exactly who thought it was a good idea to do so in the first place, when working somewhere where security is of at least some importance? Or am I just an old, bitter paranoid man who is allergic to fun (and probably an absolute disaster at parties)?

  4. Khaptain Silver badge

    What about the gander

    If it's bad for the Government why do they not also consider it bad for the people ?

    1. RockBurner

      Re: What about the gander

      Government: "the who?"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What about the gander

        The serfs

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder about the title, since the article pivots very hard on TikTok and US domestic politics, more than half its length is about that.

    Also, so far, it's the US who've been caught in the act of spying on EU leaders. So it seems the part where Twitter, Instagram and all are banned too would be worth a quick reminder.

  6. jmch Silver badge

    Why the emphasis on TikTok???

    "The government of France has banned TikTok – and all other recreational apps –"

    a) TikTok wasn't specifically mentioned and (b) it's clear that it isn't a subtext referral only to TikTok. For me it is astounding, by the way, that this is something new or has to be announced as such, since I would assume that recreational apps and websites are routinely banned from work computers. It's not just for security, it's because a work phone is assigned if you need it to work with. Use your own personal phone for whatever you want.

    Incidentally there are AFAIK also phone architectures that can have 'work' and 'personal' profiles where the whole filesystems are kept seperate at OS level (although I guess that still could be theoretically hacked through an app installed in personal-space)

    1. FrogsAndChips Silver badge

      Re: Why the emphasis on TikTok???

      The press statement explicitely mentions TikTok in its first sentence as "a lot of other governments are actively considering a ban on TT". Comments in the press mentioned Netflix and CancyCrush as well. Admittedly, the full list of applications hasn't been published yet, but I'd be surprised if TT was not on top when it is, hopefully with a large number of others.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Why the emphasis on TikTok???

        Isn't Candy Crush a default menu item in Windoiws10/11 these days? Surely it's not "recreational", it's part of the default install :-)

        And doesn't every office have a least one X-Box for all the users to connect to over the LAN? Why else would the shortcuts in the start menu be there by default?

        1. FrogsAndChips Silver badge

          Re: Why the emphasis on TikTok???

          No X-box in my office, unless I've not searched in the right place, and even though I have the XBox shortcut on my corporate laptop, it seems to be missing a component for it to work, with a suggestion that I waste my admin's time to install it. No sight of Candy Crush either.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is their Government anticipating a 'Paris Spring'?

    ... and so they're banning apps in the Interests of Public Safety?

    Committee of Public Safety.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is their Government anticipating a 'Paris Spring'?

      Est-ce vous M. Robespierre?

  8. Alan Bourke

    The words stable, door and bolted immediately sprang to mind.

    It's amazing to me that this isn't mandatory in every country for every government-supplied device. Especially given how clueless most politicians seem to be about tech matters.

    1. Mayday Silver badge

      Re: The words stable, door and bolted immediately sprang to mind.

      You reckon? Twitter was the best platform for the 45th US President. Particularly for communications and Covfefe.

      1. parlei Bronze badge

        Re: The words stable, door and bolted immediately sprang to mind.

        That did have the advantage of showing us an image of what went on in his brain. Advantage... come to think of it it might be more of a traumatic event than an advantage.

    2. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: The words stable, door and bolted immediately sprang to mind.

      It's not only for politicians, but also for government employees - and why this is not the standard in any company is pretty strange for me. Work phone = work related apps only. Private phone = personal stuff, like "recreational apps" (whatever that might mean).

    3. 42656e4d203239 Silver badge

      Re: The words stable, door and bolted immediately sprang to mind.

      >It's amazing to me that this isn't mandatory in every country for every government-supplied device. Especially given how clueless most politicians seem to be about tech matters.

      You, sir, with respect have too much faith in policitans...

      It's not amazing to me that this isn't mandatory in every country for every government-supplied device, Especially given how clueless most politicians seem to be about tech matters.

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: The words stable, door and bolted immediately sprang to mind.

      I think it's more about the civil servants than the politicians. There are a LOT more of them, ie ALL government issued devices not just those operated by the people least likely to understand.

  9. IGotOut Silver badge

    "Meanwhile the US contemplates drastic action"

    Conspiracy hat on.

    Meta have been oh so desperately try to gain ground lost to TikTok.

    Ban TikTok.

    Problem solved.

    Personally I think it's down to China's lax laws on pornography, after all they allow statues from the middle ages to appear on the app

  10. Len
    Thumb Up

    A much more sensible approach

    I think the French approach is much more sensible than what we've seen in other countries.

    Granted, TikTok goes to extreme lengths in spying on its users (it's essentially a key logger, among other things), but its business model is not that different from many other "free" social media services. It makes much more sense to ban specific practices or types of apps than to single out a single app but leave the other data predators untouched.

    I understand why it's hard in the US to ban domestic apps from major political donors but I don't see why the UK/Finnish/Portuguese/Norwegian government couldn't ban Meta apps on its devices for instance.

    1. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: A much more sensible approach

      Absolutely. As mentioned elsewhere, only those with specific job functions (like PR bods/social media bods) should have access to the networks on devices that are not used for anything else.

      Safeguarding company/organisation data by not allowing unsanctioned apps/software on the device is a standard security practice. That they mention TikTok specifically is just because TikTok is the bogeyman-du-jour, but also because it is linked to China, and China is currently not considered to be friendly (neutral at best, hostile otherwise) given its current stance in the Ukraine war and its political direction under the current premier.

      The US, despite its various security apparatuses doing what they do best (which is spying on anyone *not* the US), is still considered to be friendlier than China. It's a political thing.

      If all governments were to follow France's lead in banning all social media platforms from its managed government devices, then there's no "oh, but it's being politically racist towards China" anymore. If your job is to run the social media channel for your government department, then fine. If your job is being a bean counter for said government department, YOU. DO. NOT. NEED. FACEBOOK. OR. TWITTER. OR. TIKTOK. ON. YOUR. DEVICE. End of.

  11. Matt_payne666

    I dont understand why this is so newsworthy!

    Not just on the reg, but its all over mainstream media...

    Company policy bans entertainment app on company device - whether its leaking company secrets to the Chinese/Americans/albainians/or mersea islanders, or its just a massive time sink...

    My work done allow installing unapproved software on its assets, i dont see why this is any different- Its not something I have an issue with or even considered an issue...

    Phones, laptops and tablets, etc are not expensive - everyone has their own, so why put your personal crap on the work device anyway?

    If I was in incharge of Gov issued phones/tablets, they would be MDM'ed to the nth degree... no app store and the minimum needed for them to do their jobs.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I dont understand why this is so newsworthy!

      Wait, you don't recognise an anti-competitive campaign when you see one?

      Let me quote you some text from a Washington Post exclusive:

      Facebook paid GOP firm to malign TikTok

      The firm, Targeted Victory, pushed local operatives across the country to boost messages calling TikTok a threat to American children. “Dream would be to get stories with headlines like ‘From dances to danger,’ ” one campaign director said.

      Facebook parent company Meta is paying one of the biggest Republican consulting firms in the country to orchestrate a nationwide campaign seeking to turn the public against TikTok.

      The campaign includes placing op-eds and letters to the editor in major regional news outlets, promoting dubious stories about alleged TikTok trends that actually originated on Facebook, and pushing to draw political reporters and local politicians into helping take down its biggest competitor. These bare-knuckle tactics, long commonplace in the world of politics, have become increasingly noticeable within a tech industry where companies vie for cultural relevance and come at a time when Facebook is under pressure to win back young users.

      And that's why you see it everywhere. It's basically a Huawei reprise, proven by the fact that all this coverage gently skips over the exposure posed by US based asocial media.

      NO social media should be on government devices, irrespective of origin, so France is apparently the one nation that saw through this fairly transparent attempt to deflect attention.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: I dont understand why this is so newsworthy!

      "If I was in incharge of Gov issued phones/tablets, they would be MDM'ed to the nth degree... no app store and the minimum needed for them to do their jobs."

      Our company did that. It took weeks if not months to get the approvals through to add back all the apps we actually need to do our jobs properly. Like OEM diags tools which are absolutely required on a day to day basis. AFAIK there was no consultation or notice period. Someone high up simply decided it should happen and suddenly the "app store" had something like 5 or 6 apps in it.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Looks like the BBC is doing that reporting much better:

  13. DS999 Silver badge

    This looks to be the ultimate "OK boomer" moment

    All the young people using Tik Tok think it is crazy politicians are looking to ban it!

    I have to admit I'm torn, on the one hand I think government choosing to censor a particular app sets a bad precedent for the future and is exactly the kind of thing we complain about China doing today and the USSR doing in the past as an example of how their people lack the freedom we have.

    On the other hand, China having control of the algorithms that determine what content Tik Tok users see is a bad thing considering how many younger people get their news almost exclusively from social media. And if it means some douchey gen Z "influencers" encouraging stuff like Tide Pod challenges lose their audience that's hardly a bad thing.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Social media apps

    I’ve never used them.

    No negative impact on my life.

    What’s the great attraction, or is it just simple FOMO?

  15. RichardBarrell

    This seems like a sensible step. It's much more reasonable and equitable than singling out TikTok, given plenty of other apps have the same problems.

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