U.S. Army Follows Navy’s TikTok Ban on Government Devices

TikTok Banned
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The United States Army has recently followed the Navy in banning social media app TikTok. The Army claims that the app poses a significant security threat, and the TikTok ban applies to all government-owned phones. The Army spokesperson, Lt. Col Robin L. Ochoa, confirmed that there was a security bulletin about the app that came earlier this month. That bulletin advised all service members to “uninstall TikTok to circumvent any exposure of personal information.”

The U.S. Navy’s TikTok ban was covered in December 2019, where sailors were told that anyone who did not uninstall the app could not access the Navy intranet. TikTok’s explosive growth in the world of social media has resulted in over 750 million downloads. The Chinese-owned app has jumped 33% in downloads compared to last year, and U.S. lawmakers have expressed concerns because ByteDance, a Chinese company, owns the app.

Senators Chuck Schumer (NY-D) and Tom Cotton (AR-R) have asked the U.S. intelligence community to intervene, as they fear that the app might be used as a vehicle to spy on U.S. citizens through location data. Marco Rubio raised concerns about censorship issues surrounding the Hong Kong freedom protests, and these lawmakers argue that ByteDance could be beholden to the Chinese government.

Both senators noted that the Chinese government offers no way for Chinese companies to appeal a government request if they disagree with it. TikTok argues that its data centers are outside of China; however, executives from the company refused to appear before a congressional committee when summoned. TikTok said that the “short notice” of the appearance made them unable to participate.

TikTok has faced hefty fines in the United States over privacy violations, and earlier this year, the company agreed to pay a $5.7 million fine to settle child privacy complaints. These complaints involved collecting names, email addresses, and locations of children under 13. Additionally, the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment launched a national security review of ByteDance’s $1 billion acquisition of Musical.ly.

The TikTok ban by the Army and Navy follows an executive order signed by President Donald Trump on August 6, 2020, that bans U.S. transactions with ByteDance. The order’s argument is that the app’s data collection policies are a threat to national security and have the potential to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information.

TikTok has since filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration, arguing that the executive order is unconstitutional and has deprived the company of due process. The lawsuit also claims that the order is politically motivated, and the administration has failed to provide evidence of any wrongdoing by the company.

In conclusion, the TikTok ban by the Army and Navy is based on security concerns that have been raised by U.S. lawmakers. The concerns are about the potential for the app to be used to spy on U.S. citizens through location data and potential censorship issues surrounding the Hong Kong freedom protests. TikTok has faced privacy violation fines in the United States, and its acquisition by ByteDance is under national security review. The TikTok ban follows an executive order signed by President Trump that bans U.S. transactions with ByteDance, and the company has since filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration.