Following Pentagon’s guidance, both the US Army and the US Navy have banned the use of TikTok app on government-issued phones. The army implemented the ban following fears that the Chinese government could use the Beijing-based TikTok app to spy on American users.
US Army bans TikTok app
The US Army has often used the TikTok app to recruit new joinees. The first to follow the Pentagon guidance was the US Navy. It banned the application’s use on government issued mobile phones earlier this month. The US Army has closely followed the navy in banning the popular entertainment app. ByteDance, a company based in Beijing, China, owns TikTok app.
Why is TikTok app being singled out?
China is known for censoring and closely monitoring all technological companies that operate in its territories. Consequently, many governments, including US bodies, have raised concerns that China may be using these applications to spy on foreign governments, militaries and security agencies. The Office of the Secretary of Defense sent out a guideline on the 16th of December, as part of its Cyber Awareness Message. This identified TikTok as a potential security threat and recommended against its use by the US Army and US Navy.
However, it must be borne in mind that army personnel can still use TikTok app on their personal phones. While the US Army bans TikTok app on government-issued phones, it advises recruits to exercise caution while using the app on personal devices. It also recommends not revealing personal information recklessly. Further, the guidelines recommend that the recruits do not respond to unsolicited or unfamiliar text messages.
Does this ban affect regular TikTok users?
Technological companies based on foreign countries have come under increasing scrutiny lately, in many countries. This is mostly because cyber security threats are real. Many militaries and governments are grappling to understand the ramifications of cross-border cyber security issues.
Personal users may need to be wary too, as identity thefts and impersonations are becoming too common. TikTok users who are not part of the navy or army may still want to exercise caution. They should not share sensitive information over the application. It also makes sense to be wary of messages sent by unknown users.