President Biden is banning TikTok but only on government-issued devices. Amidst security fears, the Biden administration is giving federal employees 30 days to remove the popular video-sharing platform from their devices in hopes it will stop any security breaches.
Plans to ban TikTok from government-issued devices began in December 2022 when Senate passed the bipartisan bill unanimously. Growing concerns from FBI Director Chris Wray suggested that the Chinese government could use TikTok to “influence operations” and compromise millions of devices although the Chinese government deem the move “insecure”
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TikToK (also known as Douyin in China) is owned by the Chinese company, ByteDance and enables users to view and share short videos between 3 seconds and 10 minutes long. Launched in 2016, TikTok has continued to grow in popularity and in 2021 it became the most downloaded app beating Facebook, Instagram and YouTube (plus many more) with a staggering 656 million downloads.
Although this ban on TikTok only affects government-issued devices, there has been talk of banning TikTok from the US entirely. Following the bill passed in December 2022, Republican Senator Marco Rubio hopes to take things one step further as he filed a bipartisan bill to bank the app entirely due to worries it could be used to spy on Americans.
The US is by no means the first country to ban TikTok and other social media plaofrms from government-issue devices. In 2020 following a geopolitical dispute with China, India banned TikTok and 58 other Chinese-owned apps and in February 2023, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also shared plans to remove the app from government devices.
Banning TikTok from government-issued phones doesn’t feel like a particularly bold move but not banning all social-media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feels targeted. While groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation have suggested China could use TikTok as a way of accessing user data, other apps and services share this same concern so why aren't they being banned from government devices too?