The White House has given US federal agencies 30 days to remove the popular Chinese-owned social media app TikTok from all government mobile devices amid growing security concerns. Canada announced a similar ban.
Congress, the White House itself and more than half of the US states had already banned TikTok amid concerns that Beijing could use its legal and regulatory powers to obtain users' private data or to try to promote misinformation. or pro-China narratives.
The US military has banned the app on military devices, and the European Union's executive branch has temporarily banned TikTok on its employees' phones.
More than two-thirds of American teens use TikTok, which is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company that moved its headquarters to Singapore in 2020. It has been the target of critics who allege the Chinese government could access user data, such as their browsing history and location.
China claims the bans reveal Washington's own insecurities and represent an abuse of state power.
Here's a look at what's known:
WHAT ARE THE CONCERNS ABOUT TIKTOK?
Both the FBI and the Federal Communications Commission have warned that ByteDance could share TikTok user data with China's authoritarian government.
There are also concerns that the company is sending large amounts of user data to China, in violation of strict European privacy regulations.
In addition, there have been fears about the content itself transmitted through TikTok, such as that it harms the mental health of adolescents.
WHO HAS DRIVEN THE RESTRICTIONS ON TIKTOK?
In 2020, then-President Donald Trump and his administration tried to ban all dealings with the company that owns TikTok, force it to sell its US assets, and remove it from app stores. Courts blocked Trump's efforts to ban TikTok, and President Joe Biden rescinded Trump's orders after taking office but ordered an in-depth study of the matter. The planned sale of TikTok's US assets has been shelved.
In the US Congress, both parties have expressed concern about the app. Congress passed the “Zero TikTok on Government Devices Act” in December as part of a sweeping government funding package. The law allows the use of TikTok in certain cases, including for national security, law enforcement, and investigative purposes.
House Republicans are expected to push through on Tuesday with a bill that would give Biden the power to ban TikTok across the United States. The bill, proposed by Rep. Mike McCaul, seeks to sidestep challenges the federal government would face in court if it proceeds with sanctions against the social media company.
WHAT DOES TIKTOK SAY?
TikTok has challenged the bans, claiming it has not been given a chance to answer questions and that governments were disengaging from a platform loved by millions.
Responding to the US announcement, TikTok spokeswoman Brooke Oberwetter said Monday: “TikTok's ban on federal devices was passed in December without any deliberation, and unfortunately that stance has served as guidance for other governments globally. . These restrictions are little more than politicking.”