TikTok, the Chinese video-sharing application, has been banned by the European Parliament on its employees’ work phones for security reasons. This ban also applies to personal mobile devices of employees containing access to Parliament emails and other network access. This measure comes after the European Commission and the European Council also announced a similar ban last week, fearing that Chinese authorities could use this application owned by ByteDance to collect user data and promote their interests.
The United States, Canada, and other governments have also adopted restrictive measures against TikTok due to similar concerns. Western authorities fear that Chinese authorities may access user data worldwide through this application, which TikTok has denied for years. Many U.S. lawmakers consider the platform of short and viral videos as a threat to national security. On Monday night, the White House ordered federal institutions to ensure that TikTok disappears from their smartphones within 30 days, in accordance with a law ratified by President Joe Biden in early January. The U.S. government is also considering other measures to combat the application.
TikTok has denied these accusations and called on governments to adopt a more balanced approach to their platform. A spokesperson for the platform believed that this ban was a “political theater” and regretted that “this approach is copied by other governments around the world.” TikTok has been waiting for months for the conclusions of a review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a government agency that assesses the risks of any foreign investment to U.S. national security.
However, the powerful civil rights defense association, ACLU, opposes this law, which “would censor a platform” and “deprive Americans of their constitutional right to freedom of expression.” Supporters of the law supported by Republicans believe that this law would give Joe Biden the authority to completely ban TikTok in the United States. It would then need to be adopted by both chambers, but measures against China are one of the few issues that bring together both right and left in Congress.
Ultimately, the issue of data security and foreign influence on social networking applications has become a growing concern for governments around the world. Bans and restrictions on TikTok are likely to have an impact on other similar applications in the future, and it will be interesting to see how governments respond to these increasingly pressing security issues.
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