The European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, asked all its employees to remove TikTok from their corporate devices, as well as their personal devices that use corporate apps, according to an email to officials Thursday.
The email, which was first reported by EURACTIV, said the decision was made to “protect the Commission’s data and increase its cybersecurity,” and officials were asked to delete the app as soon as possible and no later than March 15. Failure to comply with the Commission’s request could see staffers no longer have access to corporate apps like their email or Skype accounts.
TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The aim of the ban is to protect Commission data and confidential documents from a possible cybersecurity threat.
EU Internal Markets Commissioner Thierry Breton told reporters that he spoke to TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew about data privacy and the Commission’s concerns.
“We are extremely active … to make sure we are protecting our colleagues,” he said.
The crackdown on TikTok comes after increased scrutiny of the app from global government officials following reports that TikTok spied on journalists, admitted personal data from users could be accessed in China, and misled the public about how U.S. user data was stored and accessed.
Experts have criticized the bans in the U.S., however, as they are often easy to circumvent and don’t address larger data privacy concerns.