The White House has ordered TikTok ban and all federal agencies to remove the Chinese-owned social media app TikTok from their devices within the next 30 days due to concerns that Beijing could access sensitive government data obtained by the app. The move comes after Congress passed the “No TikTok on Government Devices Act” in December, which permits the use of TikTok only for certain purposes, including national security, law enforcement, and research.
TikTok has dismissed concerns that Beijing could gain control of American user data, stating that it is developing security and data privacy plans as part of the Biden administration’s ongoing national security review. However, the app has faced similar bans and restrictions in other countries and organizations.
The guidance from the Office of Management and Budget has been hailed as a “critical step forward” in protecting sensitive government data. The federal chief information security officer, Chris DeRusha, stated that the guidance is part of the Administration’s ongoing commitment to securing the digital infrastructure and protecting the American people’s security and privacy.
Some federal agencies, including the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and State, have already implemented restrictions on the use of TikTok. However, the guidance calls for all agencies to do so within the next 30 days. TikTok, despite the restrictions, remains extremely popular and is used by two-thirds of teens in the U.S.
Canada has also announced that it is banning TikTok from all government-issued mobile devices. The European Union’s executive branch has temporarily banned the app from phones used by employees as a cybersecurity measure. House Republicans are expected to introduce legislation that would give President Biden the power to ban TikTok nationwide. The proposed bill would allow the administration to ban any software applications that pose a threat to national security.
Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, Rep. Mike McCaul, has been a vocal critic of TikTok, describing the app as a tool being used by the Chinese Communist Party to “manipulate and monitor its users while it gobbles up Americans’ data to be used for their malign activities.” With legislation being proposed to ban TikTok nationwide, it remains to be seen how this will affect the app’s popularity and the ongoing debate over its security.