US Navy Bans Chinese TikTok Citing Threat To National Security

The US Navy banned the use of TikTok, a Chinese-based social media application, on mobile phones provided by the government. The navy cited TikTok as a ‘threat to national security’.

A bulletin issued by the Navy on Tuesday showed up on a Facebook page serving military members, saying users of government-issued mobile devices who had TikTok and did not remove the app would be blocked from the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet.

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”.

Last month, US Army employees were told not to use the TikTok application. Members of the US Congress said that TikTok, the world’s fastest-growing social media platform, has become a national security threat for the United States which is directly linked to the Chinese government.

Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer and Republican Senator Tom Cotton said that countries wishing to influence US citizens can reach users through such practices and spread false news and disinformation in many areas, including election campaigns.

TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Beijing-based company founded in 2012 by Zhang Yiming. TikTok was the most downloaded app in the US in October 2018, the first Chinese app to achieve this. As of 2018, it is available in over 150 markets and in 75 languages.

In January 2019, an investigation by the Peterson Institute for International Economics described TikTok as a “Huawei-sized problem” that poses a national security threat to the US as with its ability to convey location, image and biometric data to its Chinese parent company.