TikTok, a popular video-sharing app owned by Chinese company ByteDance, has faced bans in several countries due to privacy and cybersecurity concerns. The app’s history dates back to 2016 when ByteDance launched an app called A.me, which was later renamed Douyin and expanded outside of China as TikTok in 2017. Despite TikTok’s claims that it does not share data with the Chinese government, many countries remain cautious about its ties to China and have implemented partial or total bans on the platform.
Australia recently banned TikTok on all federal government-owned devices, citing security fears and advice from national intelligence agencies. This makes Australia the last of the “Five Eyes” security partners, which include the United States, Canada, Britain, and New Zealand, to take action against the Chinese-owned video app.
India was one of the first countries to impose a nationwide ban on TikTok and other Chinese apps like WeChat in 2020, following a clash between Indian and Chinese troops at a disputed Himalayan border. In the United States, government agencies were given 30 days in early March to delete TikTok from federal devices and systems over data security concerns. The ban applies only to government devices, but some U.S. lawmakers are advocating for an outright ban.
In Europe, the European Parliament, European Commission, and the EU Council have imposed bans on TikTok on staff devices. Belgium, Denmark, France, and the Netherlands have also taken measures to ban or restrict the use of TikTok on government-issued devices. The United Kingdom has banned TikTok from mobile phones used by government ministers and civil servants, as well as from the British Parliament’s official devices and the wider parliamentary network.
Other countries that have implemented bans or restrictions on TikTok include Afghanistan, Pakistan, Taiwan, and Norway. These bans typically apply to government-issued devices, with some countries also advising their employees to remove the app from their personal devices due to security concerns.