- Chinese-owned video app TikTok has been banned from government phones in the US, Canada and the EU.
- There are concerns about how data is stored and shared with the Chinese government.
- The company says it was not given the opportunity to answer questions prior to the ban.
The US government’s ban on Chinese video-sharing app TikTok shows Washington’s uncertainty and is an abuse of state power, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said.
“We strongly oppose these wrong actions,” spokeswoman Mao Ning said at a daily briefing.
“The US government must respect the principles of a market economy and fair competition, stop suppressing companies, and provide an open, fair, and non-discriminatory environment for foreign companies in the US.
“… How insecure can the US, the world’s leading superpower, be to such an extent fearful of the youth’s favorite app?”
In guidance released Monday, the White House is giving all federal agencies 30 days to wipe TikTok from all government devices. The White House has already banned TikTok from its devices.
TikTok is used by two-thirds of American teenagers, but Washington fears that China could use its legal and regulatory powers to obtain users’ personal data or to spread disinformation or narratives in favor of China.
Congress and more than half of the US states have so far banned TikTok on state-issued mobile devices.
Some have also taken action to apply the ban to any app or website owned by ByteDance Ltd, the private Chinese company that owns TikTok and moved its headquarters to Singapore in 2020.
China has long blocked a long list of foreign social media and messaging apps, including YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Washington and Beijing disagree on a variety of issues, including trade, computer chips and other technology, national security and Taiwan, and the discovery and downing of a suspected Chinese spy balloon over the US earlier this month.
Canada is also imposing a ban due to “an unacceptable level of privacy risk”.
On Monday, Canada announced that it was joining the US in banning TikTok from all government-owned mobile devices.
“I suspect that when the government takes the important step of telling all federal employees that they can no longer use TikTok on their work phones, many Canadians, from businesses to individuals, will rethink the security of their data and perhaps make a choice.” said the Prime Minister of Canada. Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters after the announcement.
Treasury Board President Mona Fortier said Canada’s Chief Information Officer determined that TikTok “poses an unacceptable level of privacy and security risk.”
“On a mobile device, TikTok’s data collection methods provide significant access to phone content,” Mr. Fortier said.
On Tuesday, the app will be removed from phones issued by the Canadian government.
The European Union’s executive branch said last week that it had temporarily banned TikTok from phones used by employees as a cybersecurity measure.
TikTok has questioned the bans, saying it has not been given a chance to answer questions and governments have cut themselves off from the platform beloved by millions.