As privacy and cybersecurity concerns about the short-video app mount, the United States and Canada issued orders this week prohibiting its usage on government-provided mobile devices.
TikTok, owned by the Chinese company Bytedance, has long claimed that it does not share data with the Chinese government and that its data is not stored in China. It also denies collecting more user data than other social media businesses and argues that it is handled independently by its own management.
Despite TikTok’s assurances, several countries remain skeptical of the company and its ties to China. The following nations and territories have imposed partial or entire bans on TikTok.
On privacy and security concerns, India banned TikTok and hundreds of other Chinese apps, including the messaging app WeChat, in 2020. The restriction was imposed immediately after a battle between Indian and Chinese troops along a disputed Himalayan boundary killed 20 Indian soldiers and injured dozens more.
The companies were given the opportunity to reply to privacy and security questions, but the ban was rendered permanent in January 2021.
Taiwan Taiwan banned TikTok in the public sector in December 2022 after the FBI warned that it presented a national security concern. Government electronics, such as mobile phones, tablets, and desktop computers, are not permitted to run Chinese-made software, such as TikTok, its Chinese version Douyin, or Xiaohongshu, a Chinese lifestyle content app.
United States: This week, the U.S. said that government agencies have 30 days to delete TikTok from federal devices and systems over data security concerns. The ban applies only to government devices, though some U.S. lawmakers are advocating an outright ban.
China slammed the United States for banning TikTok, calling the restriction an abuse of state power and a suppression of foreign enterprises. More than half of the 50 states in the United States have also prohibited the software from being used on government devices.
Canada: After the U.S. announcement, Canada on Monday announced that government-issued devices must not use TikTok, saying that it presents an “unacceptable” risk to privacy and security. Employees will also be blocked from downloading the application in the future.
European Union: The European Parliament, European Commission, and the EU Council, three top EU bodies, have imposed bans on TikTok on staff devices. The European Parliament’s ban, announced Tuesday, takes effect on March 20. It has recommended lawmakers and staff removes the app from their personal devices.
Pakistan: Pakistani authorities have temporarily banned TikTok at least four times since October 2020, citing concerns that app promotes immoral content.
Afghanistan: Afghanistan’s Taliban leadership banned TikTok and the Chinese game PUBG in 2022 on the grounds of protecting youths from “being misled.”