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Tick tock TikTok

The White House has given all U.S. federal agencies 30 days to remove TikTok from government-owned devices, amid growing tensions between China and the US

The European Union, European Commission, Canada and now Denmark have all temporarily banned TikTok from government-issued devices. The White House, U.S. armed forces, Congress and more than half of U.S. states had already banned TikTok.

The concern surrounding the wildly successful app, enjoyed by more than 100 million users in the U.S. alone, is that its parent company, ByteDance, would give user data to the Chinese government, or push misinformation on its behalf.

Following varying Chinese spyware being detected in Canadian and US airspace earlier this year, security concerns appear to be intensifying, with tensions between the two countries at an all-time high.

This is not the first major Chinese technology company to be blocked, banned or stalled, with Huawei having been given the cold shoulder in a number of western markets.

China’s foreign affairs minister spoke out on Monday against the ban, suggesting the US is revealing their insecurity over technological prowess, and should not be allowed to abuse of state power in such a manner.

Meanwhile, Western technology companies such as Yahoo and LinkedIn, have been exiting the Chinese market or downsizing because of Beijing’s strict privacy law that specifies how companies can collect and store data.

TikTok had chosen a US tech partner, the Silicon Valley company Oracle, to control U.S. user data, in an effort to avoid a nationwide ban. Backups however are still stored in servers in the US as well as Singapore.

The Chinese company has questioned the bans, as have civil rights advocates who believe the legislation on data-harvesting and privacy laws should be addressed to protect the consumer from any and all companies, wherever they are from.

“These bans are little more than political theater,” the spokesperson for TikTok, Oberwetter said yesterday.

In 2020, India imposed a full ban on TikTok and dozens of other Chinese apps, citing national security and data privacy concerns. TikTok had faced temporary bans for all users in Pakistan, Indonesia and Bangladesh over the spread of “inappropriate” content. Taiwan had banned TikTok from all government-owned devices last year.

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