Norwegian government bans ministers and officials from using TikTok

No Norwegian ministers, state secretaries or political advisers will not be permitted to use either TikTok or Telegram on official work phones, tablets and devices, the Norwegian governemnt said Tuesday.

Pictured are TikTok offices.
the Norwegian PM's office has said that ministers should not have TikTok on their phones. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP)

The recommendation, which follows similar moves and bans in a number of Western countries, was based on espionage fears and also applies to the encrypted Russian messaging app Telegram.

“In their risk assessments … the Norwegian intelligence services single out Russia and China as the main risk factors for Norway’s security interests,” Justice Minister Emilie Enger Mehl said in a statement.

“They also single out social media as a forum favoured by potentially dangerous actors and others who want to influence us with disinformation and fake news,” she said.

The recommendation applies to all work devices used by government officials and which are connected to the government’s digital systems.

The youngest member of the government, 29-year-old Mehl found herself at the centre of a media frenzy last year after she admitted, after a long silence amid suspicions about the app, that she had installed TikTok on herĀ  work phone.

She stressed she had deleted it a month later. She said she had used it because she needed to reach a young audience — the main users of the app.

Government employees can still use TikTok and Telegram if necessary for professional reasons, but on devices that not are not connected to the government’s digital systems, the ministry said.

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.

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Norway gives green light to deep-sea mining

Norway's centre-left government announced Tuesday that it has reached an agreement with opposition parties to open parts of its seabed to mining, spurring angry reactions from environmentalists.

Norway gives green light to deep-sea mining

Already a major oil and gas producer, the Scandinavian country could become one of the first countries to explore the ocean floor for minerals crucial for renewable energies, a controversial practice because of its potential impact on marine eco-systems.

“We need minerals because we want to lead a green transition in the form of fuel cells and solar panels, of electric cars and mobile phones,” Labour member of parliament Marianne Sivertsen Naess said during a press conference.

“Norway could in the future contribute to larger access [to these minerals] without being dependent on countries that it is not always good to be completely dependent upon,” she said.

The Labour-dominated coalition government in June proposed allowing mining of the country’s seabed, which might hold sizeable quantities of copper, cobalt, zinc and rare earths.

However, without a majority in the parliament, it needed the support of opposition parties.

On Tuesday, the Conservative Party and the populist right agreed to support the gradual opening up of areas of the Greenland and Barents Seas in the

The government assured it would impose strict environmental safeguards.

“Exploitation will only be authorised only if studies carried out show that it can be done in durable and reasonable ways,” conservative MP Bard Ludvig
Thorheim said.

The agreement between the four political parties angered environmental groups.

“We will work to stop every deep-sea mining project presented to the Norwegian Parliament,” said Frode Pleym, head of Greenpeace Norway. “We will not allow Norway to destroy the unique life in the deep sea, not in the Arctic nor anywhere else.”

NGOs and scientists have warned that deep-sea mining could damage habitats and harm species that are little understood, but are potentially important to
the food chain.

In addition, they point to the risk of disrupting the ocean’s capacity to absorb carbon emitted by human activities, and the noise that could disturb
species such as whales.

Several countries, including France and the UK, have called for a moratorium on deep-sea mining.