Norwegian justice minister admits to having TikTok on work phone

Norway's 29-year-old justice minister has narrowly escaped a grilling by parliament after it emerged that she had downloaded the Chinese app TikTok onto her ministerial phone.

Norwegian justice minister admits to having TikTok on work phone
Norway's Minister of Justice Emilie Enger Mehl speaks to the European press in Brussels on March 3, 2022. Photo: François Walchaerts/AFP)

Emilie Enger Mehl, Minister for Justice and Public Security, finally admitted on Wednesday last week that she had installed the controversial video app, following more than a month of stalling on the issue. 

“Ever since questions were asked about this the first time, I have tried to answer both the parliament and the media as openly and honestly as I think is sensible about my TikTok use,” she told the broadcaster TV2.

“But now there is so much speculation, which I feel goes beyond what is warranted, I would like to clarify that I had TikTok on my non-secure work phone from the end of August until one of the first days of October.” 

Mehl has faced sharp criticism in recent days for the evasive answers she has given in parliament over her use of the app, which some security experts suspect may be used by the Chinese government for intelligence services. 

But the leader of the Norwegian parliament’s Scrutiny and Constitutional Affairs committee, Peter Frølich, said he did not feel it was necessary to hold a formal hearing. 

“The control committee is spending time on big and serious matters now,” he said. “The Minister of Justice’s use of TikTok has been admitted and corrected, and that should be enough.” 

Several opposition politicians have criticised Mehl for failing to come clean earlier. 

“The mistake she has made is trying to mislead the Storting,” Erna Solberg, leader of the Conservative Party, told NRK last week.

Audun Jøsang, Professor of cyber security at the University of Oslo, said that it was “absolutely problematic” that Mehl had had the app on her phone. 

“Many people use the same device for private and work life, but people in important positions really do need to differentiate between them,” he told VG. “We may not suspect Facebook of spying on Norwegian citizens for strategic reasons. But it is plausible that a Chinese player like TikTok does it, because Chinese businesses have a duty to assist the state.”

Member comments

  1. Wow wow you have got to stop yourself from being sick with disrespect for norwegian politicians from tik tok app on a working phone while claiming work related expenses not much work getting done I fear this is simply a act of gross misconduct with no accountability and standards of office like the anounment that norway will send billions of kroner to Ukraine over 5 years with little or no controls

  2. Norwegian justice minister admitted having tik tok on her work phone the end result no justice haha don’t you just love politicians resign na that will not happen no moral cumpus the words self serving come to mind

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Norwegian parliament joins the government in TikTok ban

Norway's parliament (Storting) has decided to adopt the ban TikTok and Telegram on work devices that the government implemented for ministers and officials earlier this week.

Norwegian parliament joins the government in TikTok ban

The ban comes after the government announced ministers and officials would no longer be allowed the apps on phones used for official government purposes.

“The Presidency has today decided that the apps TikTok and Telegram are not allowed to be installed on devices with access to the Storting’s systems. The decision is in line with NSM’s recommendation. In addition, the administration has made its own assessments,” Masud Gharahkhani, President of the Storting, announced.

The ban on the two apps is official for MPs, with the President of the Storting advising they be removed as quickly as possible. Employees with access to parliament’s systems have also been asked to remove the apps.

Governments in Britain, the United States and the European Commission have banned TikTok on work devices. TikTok acknowledged in November that some employees in China could access European user data and admitted in December that employees had used the data to spy on journalists.

The group has, however, insisted that the Chinese government has no control over or access to its data. Meanwhile, Telegram is being banned over similar fears of espionage from Russia.

Last year, the Norwegian Minister of Justice, Emilie Enger Mehl, found herself in hot water over her use of TikTok and having it installed on a work phone. She said she had used the app to try and reach a younger audience.