TikTok Banned from US Government-issued Cellphones

The Guardian | Johana Bhuiyan | Dec 31, 2023

The US government has approved an unprecedented ban on the use of TikTok on federal government devices.

The restrictions – tucked into a spending bill just days before it was passed by Congress, and signed by Joe Biden on Thursday – add to growing uncertainty about the app’s future in the US amid a crackdown from state and federal lawmakersOfficials say the ban is necessary due to national security concerns about the China-based owner of the app, ByteDance.

The US fears that the Chinese government may leverage TikTok to access those devices and US user data.

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The director of the US Office of Management and Budget and other offices have 60 days to come up with standards and processes for all government employees to remove the app from their phones.

Several federal agencies such as the White House and the defense, homeland security and state departments have already banned TikTok, so it won’t change anything for those employees.

What about other countries?

While other countries such as Indonesia have imposed temporary bans on TikTok, the biggest country that continues to prohibit the use of the app is India.

India permanently banned TikTok along with more than 50 other Chinese apps after a deadly border dispute with China, citing national security concerns. National bans in other countries have not lasted more than, at most, a few months.

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Impact: Some groups warn that a ban on TikTok would lead to similar moves from China.

Gillian Diebold, a policy analyst at the Center for Data Innovation:

Blanket bans on apps based on a company’s foreign ownership will only hurt US businesses in the long run because countries could seek to block US online services over similar national security concerns.  To address data concerns, lawmakers should prioritize passing federal privacy legislation to protect consumer data that would explicitly require companies to disclose who they share data with and hold them accountable for those statements.

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