TikTok’s Chinese ownership, security concerns spark bans across nations

March 17, 2023 - 6:08 PM
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TikTok logo
TikTok app logo is seen in this illustration taken, August 22, 2022. (Reuters/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo)

The Biden administration has demanded that TikTok’s Chinese owners divest their stakes in the popular video app or face a possible U.S. ban, the company told Reuters this week.

The move follows the introduction of a new U.S. legislation that would allow the White House to ban TikTok or other foreign-based technologies if they pose a national security risk.

Other countries and entities have also elected to ban the app.

TikTok is owned by China-based ByteDance, the world’s most valuable start-up. Numerous countries have raised concerns over its proximity to the Chinese government and hold over user data across the world.

Here is a list of countries and entities that have implemented a partial or complete ban on TikTok:

New Zealand

Became the latest country to target TikTok, imposing a ban on the use of the app on devices with access to the parliamentary network amid cybersecurity concerns.

United Kingdom

Would ban TikTok on government phones with immediate effect, and asked the National Cyber Security Centre to look at the potential vulnerability of government data from social media apps and risks around how sensitive information could be accessed and used.

India

Banned TikTok and dozens of other apps by Chinese developers on all devices in June 2020, claiming that they were potentially harmful to the country’s security and integrity.

Afghanistan

Is in talks to ban TikTok and video game PUBG, with the Taliban claiming those were leading Afghan youths “astray.”

Pakistan

Banned TikTok at least four times, with the latest ban ending in November, over what the government said was immoral and indecent content on the app.

Belgium

Belgian federal government employees will no longer be allowed to use TikTok on their work phones, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said on March 10.

Canada

The nation has banned TikTok on government-issued devices due to security risks.

Taiwan

Banned TikTok and some other Chinese apps on state-owned devices and in December 2022 launched a probe into the social media app over suspected illegal operations on the island

United States

The U.S. government’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a powerful national security body, in 2020 unanimously recommended ByteDance divest TikTok because of fears that user data could be passed on to China’s government.

In early March, legislators from both major U.S. parties introduced a bill to ban the popular app in the United States.

Congress previously passed a bill in December 2022 to ban TikTok on federal devices.

U.S. Educational Institutions

Boise State University, University of Oklahoma, University of Texas-Austin, and West Texas A&M University are some of the schools to ban TikTok on university devices and Wi-Fi networks.

U.S. States

Texas, Maryland, Alabama and Utah are among over 25 states that have issued orders to staff against using TikTok on government devices.

European Commission and European Parliament

The European Union’s executive arm, the European Commission, has issued an order to ban the use of popular Chinese app TikTok on its staff’s phones due to cybersecurity concerns. Separately, the European Parliament also banned the app from staff phones.

Reporting by Yuvraj Malik in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Eva Mathews, Aby Jose Koilparambil and Chavi Mehta; Editing by David Gaffen, Raju Gopalakrishnan and Simon Cameron-Moore