Norwegian minister apologizes over TikTok on her work phone

February 8, 2023 GMT

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Norway’s justice minister apologized Wednesday for having failed to admit, when quizzed in Parliament, that she had installed and used TikTok on her government-issued phone.

The popular video-sharing app is Chinese owned, which has raised fears in the West that Beijing could use it to scoop up user data or push pro-China narratives or misinformation.

Justice Minister Emilie Enger Mehl, 29, told lawmakers Wednesday that she had installed TikTok on her government phone for about a month last fall and has since deleted it. Questioned by opposition lawmakers in the past, she had dodged the issue citing “security reasons.”

“I could have been open about this earlier,” Enger Mehl said Wednesday. “I am sorry that the matter has developed in that way. ... I see in retrospect that I should have been open about the fact that I had TikTok on a (government) phone earlier.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The matter arose in September, when Norway’s Dagbladet newspaper reported that Enger Mehl’s TikTok postings included photos and videos from her official duties. That sparked concern that sensitive information and government activity could have reached Chinese authorities.

In a television interview on Feb. 1, Enger Mehl admitted having installed TikTok on her government phone — three months after she was asked about it for the first time. She claimed that she had consulted with her ministry before the installation.

Erna Solberg, a former prime minister now in opposition, said it was “stupid that a justice minister, who’s responsible for security laws, has installed TikTok on her work phone.” During her eight-year tenure, Solberg advised government officials against TikTok on work phones.

TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company that moved its headquarters to Singapore in 2020. Several U.S. states have moved to ban the video-sharing app from state-issued devices for government workers.