The Dutch civil servants in a while will not be allowed to use the Chinese-owned video platform TikTok on their business phones, as the Dutch Ministry of the Interior announced today, following similar decisions of other European countries.

The Dutch ministry said it discourages the use on government-issued phones of all apps from “countries with an aggressive cyber program targeting the Netherlands or Dutch interests”.

The Dutch intelligence agency AIVD listed China, Russia, Iran and North Korea as countries with such aggressive cyber program, which raises the risk of espionage.

This month, Belgium banned TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, from the phones and computers of federal government employees.

— The company is at a ‘decisive’ point, says its head–

TikTok CEO Shaw Zhiqiu said the company is at a defining moment as a growing number of US lawmakers are seeking to ban the app on national security grounds.

Chiu said in a video posted early today on TikTok that the app now has more than 150 million monthly active users in the US. “That’s like half of the US coming to TikTok,” Chiu said. TikTok had announced in 2020 that it had 100 million American users.

Chiu, who will speak before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday, said: “Some politicians have started talking about banning TikTok.”

“Now this can take TikTok away from 150 million of you,” he said. Chew also said that 5 million US businesses use TikTok to reach their customers.

Critics of TikTok fear that the data of its American users could end up in the hands of the Chinese government through the platform. TikTok denies any allegations of spying.

–Research in Italy–

At the same time, the Italian competition authority announced the launch of an investigation against TikTok, on suspicion of not applying its own control rules for “dangerous content that encourages suicide, self-harm and eating disorders”.

The investigation by the Italian competition authority targets the Irish company TikTok Technology Limited, which is responsible for relations with European consumers, as well as the English and Italian companies, it said in a statement. The Italian headquarters of TikTok was today the subject of an investigation by this authority with the assistance of the financial police.

The start of the investigation came after the presence on the platform of “many videos of young people adopting self-harming behaviors”, in particular in relation to the challenge called ‘french scar’ (French scar), which went viral in Italy on the network that is particularly popular among minors.

The Italian authority accuses TikTok of not implementing adequate content monitoring systems, “mainly in the presence of particularly vulnerable users such as minors”. TikTok has not implemented “its own rules, which provide for the removal of dangerous content related to challenges, suicide, self-harm and eating disorders,” the authority said in a statement.

TikTok is currently targeted by many countries for national security reasons. Following the lead of several Western powers — the United States, Canada and the European Union — Britain in turn banned the app on government devices on Thursday.