China-based tech company ByteDance’s short form video app Tik Tok has been the talk of many, all through the past year. Turns out that even as 2019 came to an end, the app managed to attract new news and stories about it.
It has been reported that United States Army, followed by Navy and guidance from the Defense Department has banned the social media app, Tik Tok from all government-owned phones.
US Army Bans Tik-Tok
TikTok is highly popular around the globe, especially with the US teenagers. As a result of this fact, the US military was using TikTok as a recruitment tool and as a way to reach young people but it began dissuading personnel from using the app in mid-December.
In a cyber awareness message on Dec 16, the Defense Information Systems Agency recommended all the personnel of the Defense Department to not use the Chinese-owned app.
In fact, it is considered as a potential ‘cyber-security threat’. Earlier in December, the Navy banned the social media app TikTok from government-issued mobile devices and warned that the ones not complying by this order would be blocked from the Navy Marine Corps Intranet.
All in Accordance of the Pentagon
Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Uriah Orland said in a statement that the order was part of an effort to “address existing and emerging threats”.
The message directs appropriate action for employees to take in order to safeguard their personal information. The guidance is to be wary of applications you download, monitor your phones for unusual and unsolicited texts etc. and delete them immediately and uninstall TikTok to circumvent any exposure of personal information.
TikTok has been under scrutiny from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) after lawmakers called for an investigation in October to keep a check on whether the Chinese government could collect users’ data or control the content that’s shared.
Senator Tom Cotton and Senator Chuck Schumer believed that the app served the potential of meddling in elections and silence Hong Kong protesters.
They also sent a letter to Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, to assess TikTok and other China-based companies for potential security risks.
Military personnel are allowed to use the app on their personal devices, but the Defense Department has warned that those using the app in their private lives to exercise caution.
What Does ByteDance Have to Say?
Post all of this, TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
However, in an October statement, the social media app commented in its defense that it did not remove any content from the app even when the Chinese govt asked it to do so and wouldn’t do anything as such in future too.
It added on by saying that it stores its US user data in the US (with a backup in Singapore), so it is not subject to Chinese law.