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Here’s a list of countries with TikTok bans and why

TikTok has suffered a series of bans, and the United States is about to join the list. Discussions about a ban began last year and attracted attention, especially after TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew participated in a high-profile congressional hearing. By 2024, the House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed legislation requiring parent company ByteDance to sell its interest in the app or risk being banned in the United States.

Already, a number of countries have imposed varying degrees of restrictions on the app, largely due to privacy and cybersecurity concerns related to its parent company ByteDance and its ties to the Chinese government. The European Commission and NATO, as well as federal governments around the world, have banned their employees from installing TikTok on their work-issued phones.

Here are the countries that have implemented partial and full bans on the app:

Afghanistan

Afghanistan banned the app in 2022 as part of a moral policing operation by the ruling Taliban, a spokesman for the group said.

Bloomberg reports that Inamullah Samangani criticized the popular social media app on Twitter for “misleading the younger generation.” He further elaborated during the call that TikTok’s “dirty content” does not comply with Islamic law.

Australia

On April 4, 2023, Australia became the latest country to ban the use of TikTok on federal government devices amid growing privacy and security concerns about the Chinese video-sharing app. The country is part of the so-called “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing partners, which have all taken similar measures against the social media company.

A statement from the Attorney-General’s Department highlighted that TikTok had security and privacy concerns due to “extensive collection of user data and extrajudicial direction from foreign governments that conflict with Australian law”.

“The directive will come into effect as soon as practicable,” Justice Minister Marc Dreyfus said on the official website.

Belgium

Belgium banned the use of TikTok on federal government service equipment in March 2023 after the country’s security agency warned that TikTok “collects large amounts of data without users often realizing it” while “manipulating the flow of information.”

“We cannot be naive: TikTok is a Chinese company currently authorized to cooperate with Chinese intelligence services,” Belgian Prime Minister Alexandre De Croo said in a statement shared with POLITICO.

Canada

Canada, also a member of the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance, also banned the use of the app on government devices in February 2023.

“The decision to remove and block TikTok from government mobile devices was made as a precautionary measure, particularly given the need to manage the removal of TikTok from mobile devices,” Mona Fortier, chair of the Secretariat of the Treasury Board of Canada, said in a statement. Legal regime concerns about the information collected, as well as compliance with the practices of our international partners.”

Denmark

Like other European countries, the Danish Ministry of Defense banned its employees from installing video-sharing apps on work phones in March 2023 as a cybersecurity measure.

The Ministry of Defense said it would “ban the use of the app in official units” and said “there are serious security concerns within the Ministry of Defense and there are very limited work-related needs for use of the app.” Its Cyber ​​Security Center added: “TikTok can Multiple sources of data collected could potentially be used for espionage against users of the app.”

Even its public service broadcaster DR has advised employees not to install TikTok on their work phones.

Estonia

In late March, outgoing Estonian Information Technology and Foreign Trade Minister Kristjan Järvan announced to a local newspaper that government officials would ban TikTok on state-issued smartphones.

However, in a conversation with Eesti Päevaleht, the minister further said: “If a public official uses a private phone at work, we really don’t investigate it.”

European Union

The European Commission suspended the use of TikTok on its corporate devices and on personal devices registered with the Commission’s mobile device service in February 2023. “This measure is designed to protect the Commission from cyber security threats and conduct that could be exploited to carry out cyber attacks against the Commission’s corporate environment,” it explained. “

Parliament also followed the lead of the European Commission and the European Council and banned the use of TikTok on employee mobile phones.

France

France is the first country to step up efforts to ban “entertainment” apps like Netflix and TikTok from government devices.

French Public Services Minister Stanislas Guerini said the apps “posed risks in terms of cybersecurity and the protection of personal data of civil servants and government.”

The banned apps reportedly include gaming apps like Candy Crush, streaming apps like Netflix, and entertainment apps like TikTok, adding that X itself is also on the list.

India

In 2020, India took decisive action against TikTok, imposing a nationwide ban on TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps on the grounds that they were involved in “activities prejudicial to India’s sovereignty and integrity, India’s defence, national and public security.” Order. “

The measure was implemented after a deadly confrontation between Indian and Chinese troops on the border that left 20 Indian soldiers dead. India is the largest country to impose a blanket ban on the app.

The companies were given a chance to address inquiries about privacy and security standards, but the ban became permanent in January 2021.

Dutch

In March 2023, the Dutch government advised officials not to install Chinese-owned video apps or use social media from other countries to spread “offensive” cyber programs.

Dutch Digital Minister Alexandra van Huffelen said the decision was based on advice from the country’s Secret Service (AIVD), which found that such apps present “inherent espionage risks.”

“The first step is to immediately prevent civil servants… from installing and using applications on their mobile work devices from companies from countries that carry out offensive cyber programs against the Netherlands,” she said.

Nepal

In November 2023, Nepal imposed a ban on TikTok, claiming that it destroyed “social harmony.” Communications and Information Technology Minister Rekha Sharma said the ban was implemented immediately, highlighting instances of the app spreading harmful content, the BBC reported.

TikTok is hugely popular in Nepal, especially among young audiences and female social media enthusiasts.

New Zealand

The New Zealand parliament banned the use of TikTok on all employee devices, following similar actions in several European countries.

The government said in a statement: “Following advice from our cybersecurity experts, Parliamentary Services has informed MPs and staff that the TikTok app will be removed from all devices with access to parliamentary networks.

“Based on this information, the department has determined that these risks are unacceptable in the current New Zealand parliamentary environment.”

Norway

In March, the Norwegian parliament banned the use of TikTok on government devices, but allowed civil servants to use the app on personal devices for professional reasons. The country’s Justice Minister Emilie Enger Mehl said in a statement that “Norwegian intelligence services have identified Russia and China as major risk factors to Norway’s security interests.”

However, the 30-year-old later had to apologize after she failed to admit that she had installed and used TikTok on her government-issued phone when questioned in parliament.

Pakistan

Despite agreement on some issues, Pakistani authorities have temporarily banned TikTok at least four times since October 2020, citing concerns about promoting “obscene content.” However, the ban has been lifted.

somalia

The Somali government banned TikTok, messaging app Telegram and online gambling site 1XBet in August 2023 to limit the spread of what they considered indecent content and propaganda.

“The Minister of Communications orders internet companies to stop the above-mentioned apps, which are used by terrorists and unscrupulous groups to continuously spread horrific images and misinformation to the public,” Communications Minister Jamal Hassan Khalif said in a statement.

Taiwan

In December 2022, Taiwan imposed a ban on TikTok within the public sector after the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) warned about the national security risks it posed.

Government-owned devices, such as mobile phones, tablets and desktop computers, are prohibited from using Chinese-made software. This includes apps like TikTok (China’s version of Douyin) and Xiaohongshu (China’s lifestyle content app).

U.K.

In March 2023, British Cabinet Office Minister Oliver Dowden announced an immediate ban on the use of TikTok on devices used by government officials in a statement to the British House of Commons.

In a speech to MPs, Dowden said the decision was precautionary, noting, “We know that the use of TikTok by government departments has been limited, but this is also good cyber hygiene.”

The decision is based on findings from the UK’s National Cyber ​​Security Center indicating potential risks that certain platforms could access and use sensitive government data.

Although Britain was one of the first countries to ban the use of Huawei and other Chinese technology, critics have pointed out that it has been slow to take similar action against TikTok compared with its allies.

USA

In March, the House of Representatives decisively approved a bill allowing TikTok’s parent company to sell its stake in the app or face a nationwide ban.

However, the bill is awaiting approval from the Senate, where the ban had previously faced resistance due to concerns about free speech.

President Joe Biden has pledged to enact the bill into law if it passes both legislative chambers.

More than half of U.S. states have banned the use of TikTok on government devices, citing data security concerns, and the government has instructed agencies to remove the app from federal devices and systems by the end of March.

The warnings from the FBI and FCC underscore the risk that ByteDance could share TikTok user data with the Chinese government.

There are also concerns about the impact of TikTok content on young people’s mental health. A December report from the Center to Counter Digital Hate showed that eating disorder-related content on the platform had received 13.2 billion views.

About two-thirds of American teenagers use TikTok, and the app has 170 million users in the United States, according to Pew Research Center findings.

Featured Image: Canva


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