The US Navy and army have banned their officers from using TikTok on devices issued by the government. Employees are now restricted from using the short-video app due to cybersecurity concerns related to the app allegedly sharing user data with the Chinese government. The owner of the app, the Beijing-based tech startup, ByteDance, however withholds its position of having no relations with the state’s authority.
A report by Reuters highlighted the remarks by Pentagon Spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Uriah Orland who noted that the order was part of an effort to “address existing and emerging threats.” The Cyber Awareness message sent on December 16, identifies the potential risk associated with using the app and directs appropriate action for employees to take in order to safeguard their personal information.
TikTok, who has been under scrutiny for the past year, is yet to comment on this dramatic development.
The US Army has previously used the app in their recruiting process. Cadets were advised to refrain from this practice after Senator Chuck Schumer pointed out his concerns about data privacy and the alleged relationship between ByteDance and the Chinese state.
ByteDance is currently also going through a national security review in the US in regards to its acquisition of Musical.ly. The Chinese app popular with American teens was purchased in 2017 for a reported $1 billion with the hopes of growing TikTok’s user-base internationally. It has since been on an upward trajectory gaining massive popularity.