The authorities of the US, and Canada have banned the use of TikTok on government-issued devices over concerns about privacy and cybersecurity.
The video-sharing app, which is owned by the Beijing-based ByteDance, has denied wrongdoing and maintained that it does not share data with the Chinese government.
Despite its denial, a number of countries have decided to ban it either totally or partially.
According to a report published on Wednesday on Reuters, the US house foreign affairs committee approved a bill to ban the Chinese-owned app.
Lawmakers voted 24 to 16 to suspend the app which is used by over 100 million Americans.
“TikTok is a national security threat … It is time to act,” said Michael McCaul, the Republican chair of the committee who sponsored the bill.
“Anyone with TikTok downloaded on their device has given the CCP (Communist Party of China) a backdoor to all their personal information. It’s a spy balloon into their phone.”
BBC reported that the Canadian government banned the app from all government-issued devices and blocked it from future downloads.
Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, said there was enough concern about security around the app to require the change.
“This may be the first step, this may be the only step we need to take,” he said on Monday.
Mona Fortier, the president of Canada’s Treasury Board, said the government “is committed to keeping government information secure.”
“On a mobile device, TikTok’s data collection methods provide considerable access to the contents of the phone. While the risks of using this application are clear, we have no evidence at this point that government information has been compromised,” she said.
In a statement dated February 23 and released by the European Commission, the use of TikTok has been suspended on “corporate devices” used by its staff, as well as “personal devices” that can be connected to its mobile service.
“To increase its cybersecurity, the Commission’s Corporate Management Board has decided to suspend the use of the TikTok application on its corporate devices and on personal devices enrolled in the Commission mobile device service,” the statement reads.
“This measure aims to protect the Commission against cybersecurity threats and actions which may be exploited for cyber-attacks against the corporate environment of the Commission. The security developments of other social media platforms will also be kept under constant review.”
The ban for European Commission employees is set to come into force on March 15.
In 2020, BBC reported that India’s government banned TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps.
The Indian authorities said the apps were “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order”.
In December 2022, Reuters reported that Taiwan’s government opened an investigation into TikTok over “illegal commercial operations.”
Reacting to this in an emailed statement to Reuters, ByteDance said the company has not established any legal entities in Taiwan.
“Taiwan prohibits a wide range of Chinese business operations and has already banned government departments from using Chinese apps such as TikTok, the council added.
Another report also confirmed that Taiwan imposed a public sector ban on TikTok after being warned that the video-sharing platform posed a national security risk.
In April 2022, BBC reported that the Taliban, Afghanistan’s militant group, banned TikTok for leading the country’s youths “astray”.
According to Inamullah Samangani, Taliban spokesman, the ban was necessary to “prevent the younger generation from being misled”.
EXTRA: Pakistan lifts ban on TikTok for the fourth time
In November 2021, a report by AP showed that Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has banned TikTok four times in the country since the first time in October 2020.
The Pakistani regulatory agency said the sanction is a result of complaints about allegedly “immoral, obscene and vulgar” content on the app.
The ban was later lifted after TokTok pledged to moderate content in adherence to local laws.