US government agencies are banning TikTok, the social media app teens are obsessed with, over cybersecurity fears - here's the full list
- TSA is the latest US government agency to ban TikTok on government devices.
- TikTok is a short-form video app especially popular among Gen Z, and it has amassed 1.5 billion downloads. Its parent is the Chinese developer ByteDance.
- US lawmakers have expressed concern over possible national security issues, and TikTok has faced accusations of censorship at the request of the Chinese government.
- The Pentagon also issued a warning in December that military personnel should delete TikTok from all devices due to "potential security risks associated with its use."
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The Transportation Security Administration became the latest federal agency to ban short-form video app TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance.ByteDance is the highest-valued privately-held company in the world, worth an estimated $75 billion, and has been called "China's Facebook" for its size and ownership of popular social networking apps.
The video platform has recently been criticized for censoring content that might offend governments in markets where it operates. In September, The Guardian saw internal documents that instructed moderators to censor content that could anger the Chinese government, including mentions of Tiananmen Square or Tibetan Independence. In a statement, TikTok said that these policies were no longer in use as of May.US lawmakers have also been critical of TikTok as a potential security risk. In October, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida asked the Trump administration to investigate the app based on what he called "ample and growing evidence" of censorship at the request of China, while Sens. Chuck Schumer and Tom Cotton wrote a letter to the head of national security asking for an investigation into the app as a counterintelligence risk.
In November, the US Senate held a hearing on technology and data security and invited representatives from major technology companies, including TikTok. TikTok declined to send a representative. Zhu said he planned to meet with lawmakers about their concerns over TikTok but then canceled the meetings."While we think the concerns are unfounded, we understand them and are continuing to further strengthen our safeguards while increasing our dialogue with lawmakers to help explain our policies. We recently reached out to several members of Congress to express an interest in meeting in the near future," a TikTok spokesperson told Business Insider.The Pentagon has some history of banning devices from government phones, notably Pokemon Go in 2016. Since then, several agencies and branches of the military have banned TikTok.