A growing number of countries in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific have banned the popular video-sharing app TikTok from government devices as privacy and cybersecurity concerns increase, with France likely to be the latest, reported France 24.
French Civil Service Minister Stanislas Guerini on Friday announced that France would ban the use of the Chinese-owned video-sharing app, TikTok, on the work phones of civil servants. “In order to guarantee the cybersecurity of our administrations and civil servants, the government has decided to ban recreational applications such as TikTok on the professional phones of civil servants,” he tweeted.
A string of governments and institutions in the West have banned TikTok in recent weeks, including the UK parliament, the Dutch and Belgian administrations and the New Zealand parliament.
India too imposed a nationwide ban on TikTok and dozens of other Chinese apps, including the messaging app WeChat, in 2020 over privacy and security concerns.
Concerns have mounted globally about the potential for the Chinese government to access users’ location and contact data through ByteDance, TikTok’s Chinese parent company, reported France24.
The company’s CEO Shou Zi Chew faced a grilling US lawmakers on Thursday, in a rare bipartisan rebuke that reflected a growing penchant to ban the app from the US over its ties to China and handling of user data.
Both Democrats and Republicans view the Chinese Communist Party as America’s foremost national security threat. They recognise that the CCP is playing the long haul and its endgame is global domination. To achieve its mission, Beijing is using a four-dimensional strategy of military, economic, diplomatic and cultural aggression with technology as its core. That includes TikTok.
TikTok’s chief executive said user data can be accessed by its Chinese parent company and said that the staff in China currently have the ability to see user information.
In testimony before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, CEO Shou Zi Chew struggled to reassure lawmakers that the massively popular social video app doesn’t pose a risk to its 150 million users nor share user data with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Moreover, TikTok is bound by China’s National Intelligence Law, which compels every Chinese citizen and company to surrender all data to the Chinese Communist Party on request and perform surveillance activities on behalf of the CCP.
TikTok, like many other social media companies, collects users’ personal information, including phone numbers, email addresses, contacts and Wi-Fi networks.
ByteDance has said the company does not share information with the Chinese government, but US officials counter that Chinese law requires the company based in Beijing to make the app’s data available to the CCP.
The China-based app, which counts more than 150 million US users each month, has faced growing scrutiny from government officials over fears that user data could fall into the possession of the Chinese government and that the app could be weaponised by China to spread misinformation.
In testimony before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, CEO Shou Zi Chew struggled to reassure lawmakers that the massively popular social video app doesn’t pose a risk to the US.
He admitted that TikTok had collected location data on US users in the past, and said some historical data is still stored in servers that could be accessed by engineers from ByteDance, its parent company based in China, reported CBS News.
TikTok is already banned on federal government devices, including military devices, and a growing number of states have implemented it on state government devices.
Federal lawmakers have introduced several bills that would empower the administration to ban TikTok nationwide.
The Biden administration wants ByteDance to divest itself from the short-form video platform.