As privacy and security concerns grow over TikTok, the European Union, the United States and Canada have issued orders banning its use on government-issued devices.
It has long been stated that the video-sharing platform, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, does not share users’ data with the Chinese government, and is run independently.
Nevertheless, some experts worry that downloading the app could expose sensitive information, especially on government devices.
TikTok denies allegations of collecting more user data than other social media companies, and calls for a ban on basic misinformation, adding that these decisions have been made without any deliberation or substantiation.
But numerous countries remain conservative about the platform and its relationship with China. Western technology companies including Airbnb, Yahoo, and LinkedIn are also leaving China or reducing operations there because of Beijing’s strict sequestration law which specifies how companies can collect and store data.
As a result of apprehensions of espionage in other western countries, including Denmark, TikTok has also imposed a similar ban.
The following countries and territories have already banned the app partially or completely.
European Union Institutions
The European Parliament, the European Commission, and the Council of the European Union the three top EU bodies have all banned TikTok on workers’ devices citing cyber security concerns.
The European Parliament’s ban announced on Tuesday goes into effect on March 20. It strongly recommends that Members of Parliament and staff remove the app from their personal devices as well.
United States of America
US government agencies have 30 days to remove TikTok from government equipment and systems due to data security concerns. However, some lawmakers are advocating an outright ban.
The app has also been banned from government equipment in more than half of the 50 US states.
In recent months, the FBI and the Federal Communications Commission have warned that ByteDance may be sharing TikTok user data with China’s authoritarian government.
According to a report published by the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate in December, eating disorder content on TikTok has been viewed 13.2 billion times. There are also concerns about the content of TikTok and whether it harms the mental health of teenagers.
TikTok is used by roughly two-thirds of American teens, according to the Pew Research Center.
Canada announced on Monday that government-issued devices should not use TikTok, saying it presented an “unacceptable” risk to privacy and security.
Additionally, employees will no longer be able to download the application in the future.
A privacy and security concern led India to ban TikTok and dozens of other Chinese apps, including WeChat, in 2020. In the aftermath of a clash between Indian and Chinese troops along the disputed Himalayan border, 20 Indian soldiers died and dozens were injured.
Although companies were given a chance to respond to privacy and security questions, the ban was made permanent in January 2021.
Taiwan banned TikTok in December 2022 after the FBI warned that the app posed a national security risk.
Apps such as TikTok, Douyin, or Xiaohongshu, a Chinese lifestyle content app, are not allowed to run on government devices, including mobile phones, tablets, and desktop computers.
TikTok has been temporarily banned in Pakistan at least four times since October 2020, amid concerns it promotes immoral content.
The Taliban leadership in Afghanistan has banned TikTok and PUBG in 2022 to protect youth from “misguided content”.
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