The United Kingdom and New Zealand have recently joined a growing list of countries that have banned the use of TikTok on government-issued devices due to concerns about the app’s security and privacy. The European Union, United States, Denmark, Belgium, and Canada have also issued similar orders.
Experts fear that TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company Bytedance, could expose sensitive information when downloaded on government devices. While the app claims that it operates independently and does not share users’ data with the Chinese government, many countries remain cautious about its ties to China.
TikTok has disputed accusations that it collects more user data than other social media companies, calling the bans “basic misinformation” without evidence or deliberation. However, Western technology companies such as Airbnb, Yahoo, and LinkedIn have been downsizing operations or leaving China due to Beijing’s strict privacy laws.
The ban has affected several countries and regions, with some implementing partial or total restrictions on the app. As TikTok’s popularity continues to grow, its security and privacy measures are being closely scrutinized. Governments and companies are taking steps to safeguard sensitive information, and TikTok’s future remains uncertain as scrutiny over its security and privacy practices intensifies.
Here is a breakdown of the countries that have implemented bans and the reasons behind them:
The UK: The National Cyber Security Centre found potential risks in how sensitive government data is accessed and used by certain platforms, leading to an immediate ban of the app on government official devices.
EU institutions: The European Parliament, European Commission, and the EU Council all imposed bans on TikTok on staff devices citing cybersecurity concerns.
New Zealand: The app will be banned from the phones of government lawmakers at the end of March 2023 due to concerns about cybersecurity, but special arrangements can be made if officials need TikTok for their democratic duties.
Belgium: The app was banned from devices owned or paid for by Belgium’s federal government for at least six months due to worries about cybersecurity, privacy, and misinformation.
Denmark: The Defense Ministry banned the use of the app on official units due to a risk of espionage, stating there was a very limited work-related need to use the app.
United States: Government agencies had 30 days to delete TikTok from federal devices and systems over data security concerns, and more than half of the 50 US states have also banned the app from government devices.
Canada: Government-issued devices must not use TikTok due to privacy and security risks, and employees will also be blocked from downloading the application in the future.
India: The app was banned along with dozens of other Chinese apps in 2020 over privacy and security concerns, with the ban made permanent in January 2021.
Taiwan: A public sector ban was imposed on TikTok in December 2022 due to a national security risk, with government devices not allowed to use Chinese-made software, including TikTok.
Pakistan: TikTok has been temporarily banned at least four times since October 2020 over concerns about promoting immoral content.
Afghanistan: The Taliban leadership banned TikTok and the game PUBG in 2022 to protect youths from “being misled”.