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US & Canadian Governments Want A Ban On TikTok Due To Privacy Threats

Image Source: Pixabay

The United States and Canada Governments are trying to ban the use of TikTok on mobile devices issued by their respective governments due to increasing concerns about the app’s privacy and cybersecurity. 

“The swiftest and most thorough way to address any national security concerns about TikTok is for CFIUS to adopt the proposed agreement that we worked with them on for nearly two years,” Brooke Oberwetter, a spokeswoman for TikTok, said in a statement.

TikTok denies allegations of collecting more user data than other social media platforms and asserts that it operates independently with its own management. However, numerous countries still exhibit prudence towards the platform and its relationship with China. Below is a list of countries and regions that have implemented either partial or complete prohibitions on TikTok:

“This guidance is part of the Administration’s ongoing commitment to securing our digital infrastructure and protecting the American people’s security and privacy,” said Chris DeRusha, the federal chief information security officer.

TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, has drawn scrutiny from Western governments concerned about the security of user data and the potential the app could be used to promote pro-China views.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said during a briefing Tuesday that “the United States has been overstretching the concept of national security and abusing state power to suppress other countries’ companies.”

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Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are expected to proceed Tuesday with a bill that would give President Joe Biden the ability to ban TikTok nationwide.

In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the TikTok ban for government devices could serve as a signal to the wider population.

Lawmakers and regulators in the West have increasingly expressed concern that TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance, may put sensitive user data, like location information, into the hands of the Chinese government. 

They have pointed to laws that allow the Chinese government to secretly demand data from Chinese companies and citizens for intelligence-gathering operations. They are also worried that China could use TikTok’s content recommendations for misinformation.

TikTok said recently that the Biden administration wants its Chinese ownership to sell the app or face a possible ban. The administration has been largely quiet, though the White House recently pointed to an ongoing review, in response to questions about TikTok. 

TikTok has been in yearslong confidential talks with the administration’s review panel, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, to address questions about TikTok and ByteDance’s relationship with the Chinese government and the handling of user data.

TikTok said that in August it submitted a 90-page proposal detailing how it planned to operate in the United States while addressing national security concerns. On March 23, a spokeswoman for China’s commerce ministry said China would “firmly oppose” the sale of the app.

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The Justice Department has also been investigating TikTok’s surveillance of American journalists, according to three people familiar with the matter. ByteDance said in December that its employees had inappropriately obtained the data of two U.S. TikTok users who were reporters and a few of their associates.

The exact mechanism for banning an app on privately owned phones is unclear.

Ms. Chin said that the United States could block TikTok from selling advertisements or making updates to its systems, essentially making it non-functional.

Apple and other companies that operate app stores do block downloads of apps that no longer work. They also ban apps that carry inappropriate or illegal content, said Justin Cappos, a professor at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering.

They also have the ability to remove apps installed on a user’s phone. “That usually doesn’t happen,” he said.

Image Source: Pixabay

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