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Request to Ban TikTok by US & Canadian Governments Citing Privacy Concerns

Image Source: Pixabay

The governments of the United States and Canada are pushing for a ban on using TikTok on mobile devices provided by their administrations due to escalating worries about the app’s privacy and cybersecurity.

“To address any national security concerns about TikTok, the fastest and most comprehensive approach is for CFIUS to approve the proposed agreement that we have been collaborating on for nearly two years,” stated TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter.

Despite denying claims suggesting that it collects more user data in comparison to other social media platforms, TikTok maintains that it functions autonomously with its own management. Nevertheless, several countries remain vigilant about the platform and its ties to China. The following is a list of countries and territories that have imposed either partial or complete bans on TikTok:

“This guidance forms part of the government’s continuous effort to safeguard our digital framework and ensure the security and privacy of the American populace,” mentioned Chris DeRusha, the federal chief information security officer.

TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, has come under scrutiny from Western governments worried about the security of user data and the potential use of the app to promote pro-China ideologies.

During a briefing on Tuesday, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson stated, “The United States has been stretching the notion of national security too far and exploiting state authority to suppress businesses of other nations.”

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are set to move forward with a bill on Tuesday that would grant President Joe Biden the authority to impose a nationwide ban on TikTok.

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In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau noted that the TikTok ban on government devices could send a message to the broader public.

Lawmakers and regulators in Western countries have increasingly voiced concerns that TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance, might share sensitive user data, such as location details, with the Chinese government. 

They have highlighted Chinese laws that permit the government to covertly request data from Chinese entities and individuals for intelligence operations. There are also apprehensions that China could leverage TikTok’s content recommendations for spreading misinformation.

Recently, TikTok announced that the Biden administration has urged its Chinese ownership to divest the app or potentially face a ban. While the administration has largely remained silent, the White House hinted at an ongoing review in response to queries regarding TikTok.

TikTok has been engaged in confidential discussions with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) over the years to address concerns about its relationship with the Chinese government and data management.

In August, TikTok submitted a detailed 90-page proposal outlining its operations in the U.S. while addressing national security issues. On March 23, a spokesperson for China’s commerce ministry stated that China would strongly oppose the app’s sale.

The Justice Department is reportedly investigating TikTok’s surveillance of American journalists. ByteDance acknowledged in December that its employees had inappropriately accessed the data of two U.S. TikTok users who were journalists and some of their contacts.

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The specific method for banning an app on privately owned phones remains unclear.

Ms. Chin suggested that the U.S. could prevent TikTok from displaying ads or updating its systems, effectively rendering it non-functional.

Apple and other app store operators do restrict the download of apps that cease to function. They also prohibit apps containing inappropriate or illegal content, according to Justin Cappos, a professor at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering.

They also possess the capability to delete apps installed on a user’s device. “However, this is not a common occurrence,” stated Cappos.

Image Source: Pixabay

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