The US Army has banned soldiers from using the Beijing-based social media app TikTok on government phones, citing security concerns.
It‘s an about-face for the military branch, which as recently as October was using the app — which is popular with American teens and 20-somethings — for recruiting purposes.
“It is considered a cyber threat,” an Army spokeswoman told Military.com, which first reported the news. “We do not allow it on government phones.”
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Army personnel have been issued guidance to delete TikTok from their phones. The US Navy earlier this month banned TikTok from its government-issued devices.
The decision comes after Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in November urged the Army to stop using the US’s most downloaded app to attract recruits, citing its ties to China, a nation that requires companies based there “to support and cooperate with intelligence work controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.”
“National security experts have raised concerns about TikTok’s collection and handling of user data, including user content and communications, IP addresses, location-related data, metadata, and other sensitive personal information,” Shumer wrote in the letter dated Nov. 7., addressed to Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy.
“While I recognize that the Army must adapt its recruiting techniques in order to attract young Americans to serve, I urge you to assess the potential national security risks posed by China-owned technology companies before choosing to utilize certain platforms,” the Senator added.
TikTok is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, which has denied that China’s government has a say over its content or power over its data, although the Washington Post has reported that TikTok staffers have been asked to remove content that offends Beijing.
Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reported that ByteDance is looking to move its headquarters out of China amid heightened scrutiny of its relationship with the Chinese government.
They are reportedly considering Singapore as a potential landing spot, as well as London and Dublin.
Source: New York Post