Social media and video-sharing platform TikTok is fighting an uphill battle to remain available on mobile devices. Calls to ban the app have intensified over the last few months, even though the company assured U.S. senators that it is committed to protecting user data.
That hasn’t stopped the U.S. government from banning TikTok on government-issued devices. Several states and federal agencies have banned TikTok due to potential spying from the Chinese government.
Read on to see which country just banned TikTok.
Is TikTok a security threat?
The fear over TikTok stems from the company’s seemingly questionable handling of data, which has about 80 million active monthly users in the U.S. and over 600 million worldwide. In early 2022, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said that TikTok “poses an unacceptable national security risk.”
Part of the concern is the platform’s ability to collect search and browsing histories, keystroke patterns and biometric identifiers. The FTC fined TikTok $5.7 million in 2019 over allegations ranging from COVID-19 misinformation to ISIS propaganda.
In the latest move to reduce the platform’s accessibility and influence, Canada announced this week that the app would be removed from government-issued gadgets. Users also can’t reinstall it.
“Following a review of TikTok, the Chief Information Officer of Canada determined that it presents an unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security,” explains the Treasury Board of Canada.
Has your state banned TikTok from government-issued devices?
In addition to the U.S. Navy, which banned TikTok in 2019, Wisconsin and North Carolina recently prohibited its use. Since then, several other states have taken the same approach to user data security.
At the beginning of the year, 23 states had a full or partial ban on the use of TikTok by government officials. More have been added to the ban list in 2023. Here are the states that currently have bans in place:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
According to the Homeland Security Committee, FBI Director Christopher Wray said that TikTok could give the Chinese government “the possibility to control data collection on millions of users, which could be used for influence operations, which gives it the opportunity to potentially technically compromise personal devices.”
Use TikTok? Take this one step now or they might be tracking you