TikTok might discover itself within the crosshairs of UK authorities as they contemplate whether or not the video-sharing app ought to be banned.
Security minister Tom Tugendhat informed Sky News he had requested the National Cyber Security Centre to look into the Chinese-owned platform, which has a couple of billion customers worldwide.
Despite its recognition, it has come beneath heightened scrutiny in Europe and the US over its hyperlinks to Beijing – with considerations that it may very well be used to gather person information en masse.
Sky News contacted TikTok in regards to the more and more hardline approaches, because the UK mulls following its allies in banning the app from authorities units.
A spokesperson mentioned they’d be “disappointed” by such a transfer.
“Similar decisions elsewhere have been based on misplaced fears and seemingly driven by wider geopolitics, but we remain committed to working with the government to address any concerns,” he mentioned.
“We have begun implementing a comprehensive plan to further protect our European user data, which includes storing UK user data in our European data centres and tightening data access controls, including third-party independent oversight of our approach.”
Here’s the place motion has already been taken.
Politicians in Congress have been ordered to take away TikTok from their work telephones over information privateness fears.
They have additionally been stopped from downloading it in future, with the House of Representatives’ cybersecurity specialists having deemed it to be a “high risk to users”.
Some need the measures to go even additional, with a full nationwide ban being mooted. Republicans and Democrats joined forces late final 12 months to unveil bipartisan laws that may implement such a nuclear possibility.
The invoice would block “any social media company in, or under the influence of” China and different hostile nations.
TikTok is owned by ByteDance, which is predicated in Beijing. It has described the laws as politically motivated and has denied ever sharing information with the Chinese authorities.
The Congress ban got here after dozens of particular person states banned their very own politicians from utilizing TikTok on their authorities units.
The European Commission took related steps to the US Congress final month, banning all staff from having TikTok on work telephones.
A spokesperson mentioned it was to “increase the commission’s cybersecurity”, however didn’t reveal whether or not it was right down to any particular incidents or threats.
TikTok mentioned the suspension was “misguided and based on fundamental misconceptions”.
Individual nations have additionally taken motion, with Belgium and the Netherlands amongst these to have banned it from authorities units.
In a bid to allay fears about information privateness inside the bloc’s 27 members, the agency has introduced it can open three European information centres the place person info might be saved – and a third-party information safety associate to supervise further layers of safety.
The firm says these will additional cut back worker entry to information and restrict information flows exterior of Europe.
Among the information collected by the app are issues like your IP tackle, what different apps you’ve in your cellphone, any sign-up info you present, and site information and contacts for those who give it permission.
The most wholesale TikTok ban is in India, the place everyone seems to be blocked from utilizing it.
It’s one among a set of Chinese-owned apps that folks haven’t been allowed to obtain since 2020, together with messaging platform WeChat.
Like bans within the West, it’s primarily based on safety and privateness considerations.
TikTok had greater than 200 million customers in India on the time.
Like the US, Taiwan has enforced a ban on TikTok from all public sector units.
The app may very well be utilized by the Chinese authorities to conduct “cognitive warfare” towards Taiwan, authorities mentioned.
It got here amid considerations that Beijing may very well be making ready for an invasion of the self-governing island.
Canadian authorities adopted the US in asserting a ban on TikTok from authorities units.
National and native authorities departments enforced the transfer, saying the app posed an “unacceptable risk”.
The Taliban banned TikTok final 12 months for “misleading the younger generation”.
The group itself has introduced in enormous restrictions on women’ schooling since sweeping to energy in 2021.
It additionally mentioned that the app hosted content material that was “not consistent with Islamic laws”.
TikTok has additionally been the topic of momentary bans in quite a few nations.
Pakistan, Jordan, Indonesia, and Bangladesh are amongst these the place the app has been blocked resulting from content material deemed inappropriate or offensive.
And what about China?
Somewhat paradoxically, a few of the hardest restrictions on TikTok are in China itself, which has its personal model of the app known as Douyin.
Children there who’re under-14 are restricted to spending 40 minutes a day on the platform, and might solely be utilizing it between the hours of 6am and 10pm.
There are additionally measures to cease them seeing inappropriate movies, and be directed in direction of academic content material.