TikTok has taken the world by storm, becoming especially popular during the first few months of 2020, when most of the globe was placed on lockdown and quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the super popular video-sharing and social media app has received a lot of love from users, there’s been a lot of shade thrown its way, too. After India banned TikTok along with a slew of other Chinese apps at the end of June, the United States and Pakistan are thinking about doing the same thing.
It’s all about security
While the most downloaded app of Q1 in 2020 seems like a fun, innocent app and has provided entertainment to thousands under lockdown, there are major concerns circulating on its use, fears based primarily on the lack of privacy and security of TikTok users and their data.
Because TikTok’s parent company ByteDance is China-based, there is paranoia that the company will share user data with the Chinese government—whether through data requests or surveillance software.
And how much data is collected by TikTok from user’s devices? The Guardian wrote that Chris Morales, head of security analytics at the cybersecurity firm Vectra, said that “in theory”, the app could be used to “track someone to a location, such as a military base or government installation”.
To add, technology experts are concerned that TikTok’s code could allow privacy and security breaches. TikTok has already dealt with major errors, such as the one that would allow a hacker to seize control over another user’s account, allowing them make private videos public, upload unauthorised videos, and delete existing videos.
India’s on a roll
On June 29, India banned a total of 59 Chinese apps, including TikTok, calling them a “threat to [data] sovereignty and integrity”. On Monday (Jul 27), the country showed 47 similar apps—including a TikTok wannabe called TikTok Lite—the door, and they’re not stopping there. The government is reviewing a whopping 275 more apps, which are on the list to possibly receiving countrywide bans as well.
What the US is saying
On July 7, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the US has also been mulling over the possible ban of TikTok, over concerns of Chinese surveillance.
Pompeo told Fox News that the Trump administration was “certainly” looking at banning the viral video-sharing app, advising Americans to be “wary” of downloading it unless they wanted their private data “in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party”.
In December 2019, both the US army and navy made it mandatory for service members to delete the app from all military devices. In March 2020, legislation was put forward by two Republican senators which disallowed federal employees from using the video-sharing app on government-provided work phones.
Pakistan is one of the latest countries to speak up about possibly banning TikTok, too, but for significantly different reasons. While data security and protection concerns abound, Pakistan is considering banning the app for “immoral, obscene and vulgar content”, like streaming app Bigo, which has already been prohibited by the Pakistani government.
According to a tweet by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), TikTok has been served its “final warning”, to put in place a “comprehensive mechanism to control obscenity, vulgarity and immorality through its social media application”.
On July 3, Pakistan also put in place a temporary ban on the multiplayer battle royale-style game PUBG, or PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, on the grounds of the game being “addictive, [a] wastage of time and poses serious negative impact on physical and psychological health of the children”. /TISG