US government sets a 30-day deadline for wiping TikTok from feds' phones
Last chance to film yourself doing a ByteDance, in the US and abroad
The White House has ordered all federal government employees to delete TikTok from work devices, over fears the video-sharing app could be used to spy on Americans.
According to Reuters reports, Federal staff were told to remove TikTok from their work phones, laptops, and computers within 30 days in a memo sent by Shalanda Young, director of the Office of Management and Budget – an agency in charge of overseeing agency policies and the federal budget.
The memo also said agencies must root out IT government contractors that use TikTok within 90 days – and it will start forcing these companies to drop the video-sharing app in 120 days, or else.
The ban comes after Congress voted to prohibit federal employees from using the video-sharing app on government devices because of national security concerns last year in December. TikTok has been downloaded by billions of people around the world, and is particularly popular among young people – but the US government believes that data could be shared with the Chinese government.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and representatives Mike Gallagher (R-WI), and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) introduced a bill urging the US government to block the app in America. Other leading figures, including the FBI director Chris Wray, claimed ByteDance – the app's owner – could use TikTok to manipulate, influence, and surveil Americans on behalf of the Chinese government.
Several US government agencies, including the White House, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and the State Department, have already banned staff from accessing TikTok using government devices.
- European Commission bans TikTok from staff gadgets
- The Pentagon is shockingly bad at managing its employee smartphones
- University of Texas latest US school to ban TikTok
- India's IT minister denies targeting Chinese apps for bans
Elsewhere, Canada and the European Parliament have also required government employees to remove TikTok from their work phones and devices, citing privacy and security risks. The move comes after the European Commission barred staff from using the video-sharing app last week.
The latest bans regulating the use of TikTok are the strongest actions taken by Western governments around the world yet, and come just before countries assess whether to ban the app outright.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee is set to vote on whether TikTok should be banned from all US devices. Committee chair, representative Mike McCaul (R-TX) said: "My bill empowers the administration to ban TikTok or any software applications that threaten US national security. Anyone with TikTok downloaded on their device has given the Chinese Communist Party a backdoor to all their personal information. It's a spy balloon into your phone."
Meanwhile, Canada's privacy regulator has launched its own investigation into TikTok, to examine whether it complies with the country's privacy laws. Companies are required to obtain consent to collect user data, and to be transparent about how it's being stored and used.
The American Civil Liberties Union, however, expressed its fear that a blanket ban on the video-sharing app in the US would "violate the First Amendment rights of millions of Americans who use the app to communicate and express themselves daily."
The Register has asked TikTok for comment. ®