TikTok, the Chinese-owned short-video platform that boasts of over 1 billion global monthly active users, has been banned by the White House from usage on government devices. China lashed out at the move, claiming that the ban shows Washington’s own insecurity and is a blatant example of abuse of State power. TikTok is owned and operated by Beijing-headquartered ByteDance.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said a press briefing on Tuesday that the US “has been overstretching the concept of national security and abusing State power to suppress other countries’ companies,” as reported by The Guardian
Ning added, “How unsure of itself can the US, the world’s top superpower, be to fear a young person’s favourite app to such a degree?”
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The US claimed that the purge of TikTok on government-issued and operated devices is meant to protect user data from being leaked to the Chinese government. Even neighbouring Canada prohibited the use of TikTok on government devices due to concerns over security and privacy risks.
The TikTok ban in Canada is part of an overarching national campaign to ensure the safety of its citizens online. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was quoted by Reuters saying, “This may be a first step, it may be the only step we need to take.”
While Canada’s ban on TikTok comes into effect immediately, the US has given a maximum period of 30 days within which TikTok will be removed from all agency-owned or operated devices, and to “prohibit Internet traffic” to the app.
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Back in 2020, TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps were banned completely in India (private and government usage), as they were deemed “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of State and public order.”
This move was in response to a military clash between India and China in disputed territory along the Ladakh-China border. Other popular Chinese apps such as Weibo and UC Browser were also banned in the process.