TikTok is subject to bans in many countries, ranging from being blocked on public devices to implementing nationwide crackdowns. As the UK enforces its own restrictions, here is a list of the countries where action has been taken.
By Tom Acres, technology reporter
Thursday 16 March 2023 12:51 UK
TikTok has found itself in the crosshairs of governments around the world amid growing calls for the Chinese-owned app to be banned.
Britain is the latest western country to block it from public entities according to the National Cyber Security Center was asked to watch on the popular video platformwhich has more than a billion users worldwide.
Despite its popularity, it has come under increased scrutiny in Europe and U.S over its links to Beijing – with concerns that it could be used to collect user data en masse.
Sky News contacted TikTok on the increasingly hard-line approaches ahead of the UK’s decision, with a spokesman saying they were “disappointed” by the privacy debate.
“Similar decisions elsewhere have been based on misplaced fears and seemingly driven by wider geopolitics, but we remain committed to working with the government to address any concerns,” they said.
“We have begun implementing a comprehensive plan to further protect our European user data, which includes storing UK user data in our European data centers and tightening data access controls, including third-party independent oversight of our approach.”
Measures have been taken here.
TikTok has been banned from public entities after a review found there “could” be a risk to how data and information is used by the app, minister Oliver Dowden said.
The minister added that across government, only pre-approved apps will be able to be installed – a move already in place in some departments.
Sir. Dowden said that while TikTok use is “restricted,” banning it is good cyber “hygiene.”
Some devices – where necessary – will be able to access TikTok, presumably to run public accounts.
The White House has demanded that TikTok’s Chinese owners, ByteDance, sell up or face a ban.
It comes after politicians in Congress were ordered to remove TikTok from their work phones over fear of privacy.
They have also been prevented from downloading it going forward, with House of Representatives cyber security experts deeming it a “high risk to users”.
Some want the measures to go even further, with a full nationwide ban on speech. Republicans and Democrats teamed up late last year to unveil bipartisan legislation that would enforce such a nuclear option.
The bill would block “any social media business in or under the influence of” China and other hostile countries.
TikTok has described the legislation as politically motivated and refuses to share data with the Chinese government.
The congressional ban came after dozens of individual states banned their own politicians from using TikTok on their government entities.
The European Commission took similar steps to the US Congress last month, bans all employees from having TikTok on work phones.
A spokesman said it was to “enhance the commission’s cyber security”, but did not reveal whether it was due to any specific incidents or threats.
TikTok said the suspension was “misleading and based on fundamental misunderstandings”.
Individual countries have also taken action, with Belgium and the Netherlands among those that have banned it from public entities.
In an effort to allay data privacy fears within the bloc’s 27 members, the firm has announced it will open three European data centers where user data will be stored – and a third-party data security partner to oversee additional layers of security.
The company says these will further reduce employee access to data and limit data flows outside of Europe.
Among the data collected by the app are things like your IP address, what other apps you have on your phone, any sign-up information you provide, and location data and contacts if you give it permission.
The most wholesale TikTok ban is in India, where everyone is blocked from using it.
It is one of a number of Chinese-owned apps that people have not been allowed to download since 2020, including the messaging platform WeChat.
Like bans in the West, it is based on security and privacy concerns.
TikTok had more than 200 million users in India at that time.
Like the United States, Taiwan has enforced a ban on TikTok from all government entities.
The app could be used by the Chinese government to conduct “cognitive warfare” against Taiwan, authorities said.
It happened against the background of concern that Beijing could prepare for an invasion of the self-governing island.
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Canadian authorities followed the US in announcing a ban on TikTok from government entities.
National and local government departments enforced the move, saying the app posed an “unacceptable risk”.
The Taliban banned TikTok last year for “misleading the younger generation”.
The group itself has imposed huge restrictions on girls’ education since it came to power in 2021.
It also said the app hosted content that was “not in accordance with Islamic laws”.
TikTok has also been subject to temporary bans in a number of countries.
Pakistan, Jordan, Indonesia and Bangladesh are among those where the app has been blocked due to content deemed inappropriate or offensive.
And what about China?
Somewhat ironically, some of the toughest restrictions on TikTok are in China itself, which has its own version of the app called Douyin.
Children there who are under the age of 14 are limited to spending 40 minutes a day on the platform and can only use it between 06.00 and 22.00.
There are also measures to prevent them from viewing inappropriate videos and to direct them towards educational content.
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