US Navy bans TikTok from government-issued smartphones citing ‘cybersecurity threat’

Viral video sharing app TikTok has skyrocketed in popularity, but concerns continue to grow over the its ties to China. Reuters reports that the United States Navy has now banned the TikTok app from being installed on government-issued smartphones.

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According to a bulletin issued by the Navy, the short-form video application has been deemed a “cybersecurity threat.” Users of government-issued smartphones who have already installed the app and do not delete it will be blocked from accessing the Navy Marine Corps Intranet, the bulletin said.

The Navy would not describe in detail what dangers the app presents, but Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Uriah Orland said in a statement the order was part of an effort to “address existing and emerging threats”. The Pentagon’s Orland said the “Cyber Awareness Message” sent Dec. 16 “identifies the potential risk associated with using the TikTok app and directs appropriate action for employees to take in order to safeguard their personal information.”

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Reuters explains that in general, Naval and Marine personnel who use government-issued smartphones are “allowed to use popular commercial apps,” including social media apps. In some instances, however, apps that might pose security risks are banned.

TikTok has been heavily scrutinized because of it is owned by Chinese-based ByteDance. In some instances, lawmakers in China have even lumped TikTok and Apple together when questioning the role of big tech in China. Furthermore, a recent lawsuit also accused the app of violating child protection laws.

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