On the grounds of a risk to national security, the United States administration banned the TikTok application on the devices of federal officials on February 27. Europe recently made the same decision.
The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on Feb. 27 ordered US federal agencies to clear their devices of the TikTok video app within 30 days.
Owned by Chinese company ByteDance, TikTok had previously been targeted under the Trump administration on the grounds that it posed a national security threat. The Biden administration followed and banned its use on civil servants’ devices in a law passed at the end of December.
The OMB’s order is taken pursuant to this law, ratified in early January by President Joe Biden. In a memorandum, the director of this office, Shalanda Young, called on government agencies to “remove and prohibit installations” of the application on devices owned or managed by them, and to “prohibit internet traffic from these devices to the app.
The ban does not apply to non-federal US entities or the millions of individuals who use TikTok, but the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lamented the new law, saying it amounted to “effectively banning TikTok.”
“Congress must not censor entire platforms and deprive Americans of their constitutional right to free speech and expression,” Jenna Leventoff, the ACLU’s senior policy adviser, said in a statement quoted by AFP. . “We have the right to use TikTok and other platforms to exchange our thoughts, ideas and opinions with people across the country and around the world,” she added.
The ultra-popular short-video platform is coming under increasing scrutiny from Westerners who fear Beijing could access user data around the world. The ban in the US federal government comes days after a similar decision by the European Commission which banned TikTok from its staff to “protect” the institution.
Already banned in India and soon in Canada
The Government of Canada also announced Monday that it will ban TikTok from the mobile devices it provides to its staff as of February 1, citing “an unacceptable level of risk” to privacy and security. TikTok has already been among the Chinese apps banned in India since 2020.
With more than a billion active users worldwide, TikTok is the sixth most used social platform, according to We Are Social’s latest digital evolution report, published in January.
TikTok admitted in November that some employees in China could access European user data, and admitted in December that employees had used that data to stalk journalists. However, the group denies any Chinese government control or access to its data.