Science secretary Michele Donelan admits she has TikTok on her personal phone despite it being banned from government devices over security concerns
- Ms Donelan said it was ‘a matter of a personal choice’ whether to have the app
The Science Secretary yesterday admitted she has TikTok on her personal phone – despite it being banned from government devices over security concerns.
Michele Donelan said it was ‘a matter of a personal choice’ whether to have the Chinese-owned social media video app on their phone.
Responding to questions about whether it was appropriate for Grant Shapps – the newly-appointed Defence Secretary – to access the platform, Ms Donelan said she was a ‘firm believer in personal responsibility’.
She told Times Radio: ‘We’ve banned it for government devices because of course there’s sensitive and secure information that is on those.
‘But when it comes to your personal phone, then that is a personal choice. I’m a firm believer in personal responsibility.
Michele Donelan (pictured) said it was ‘a matter of a personal choice’ whether to have the Chinese-owned social media video app on their phone
‘You need to know the ramifications and risks when it comes obviously to engaging with any kind or engaging on any kind of platform. And that is a matter of a personal choice.’
But pressed on whether it was appropriate for the Defence Secretary, she revealed: ‘Well even if you’re the Science, Technology and Innovation Secretary, I have it as well.
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‘I’m not that regular in my usage, it’s a bit sporadic, shall we say.’
Ms Donelan has published eight videos on TikTok, including most recently a video explaining the creation in February of the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology.
Other videos include explainers on how to get into politics, do work experience with an MP and advice on how to become an MP.
Earlier this year, ministers and civil servants were banned from downloading TikTok, which is owned by Chinese firm ByteDance, onto their Government phones or laptops.
The move was imposed amid fears that the platform harvests personal data, including biographical information, social connections, locations and other sensitive information.
TikTok is among the social media platforms to be made subject to new safeguarding rules in the UK’s Online Safety Bill, which requires networks to provide strict age verification processes.
Asked whether the ministers’ use of the app sends mixed messages, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘I think they’ve both provided a bit more detail about how they’re doing it and making sure it’s done in the correct way…
‘I think there is clear guidance for young people and, indeed, for adults about how to approach these things.
TikTok is among the social media platforms to be made subject to new safeguarding rules in the UK’s Online Safety Bill, which requires networks to provide strict age verification processes (stock image)
‘And I think it’s the Online Safety Bill which will further help keep the public safe online.’
Official sources said last week that Mr Shapps has passed responsibility for running his TikTok account to constituency staff, who will use their devices.
Ms Donelan clarified to ITV that TikTok had not been banned for Government ministers, but for Government devices.
She said Government ministers ‘wouldn’t have sensitive information on their personal phones’.
Ms Donelan added: ‘That’s a personal decision for the Defence Secretary… I think, actually, in this circumstance, if my memory serves me right, it’s on one of his staffer’s phones, not his actual personal phone.’
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