Federal and state governments across the West are banning TikTok. Here’s why.

Federal and state governments across the West are banning TikTok. Here’s why.

Each western federal government entity that has banned TikTok from government devices has cited security concerns. TikTok can collect a myriad of personal information from its users. In the app’s privacy policy, it states that when you create an account, upload content, or interact with the platform in any way, TikTok can and will collect the following:

  • Any account and profile information (name, age, username, phone number, profile image, email, password)
  • Any user-generated content uploaded to the app (audio recording, photos, comments, videos)
  • Direct messages
  • Any information used to purchase something through the app (card numbers, names, and information from third-party payment apps, billing, and shipping address)

Some of TikTok’s information-gathering methods can be circumvented by taking steps like denying the app access to your contacts. But much of TikTok’s information gathering is automatic and cannot be denied by the user. For instance, you must share:

  • Your device information (IP address, mobile carrier, network type)
  • Your location 
  • Cookies
  • Device metadata (describes how, when, and where your user-generated content was created)

Since TikTok has access to a lot of user data, some governments express concern that it could be bad news for government security and intelligence if adversarial governments can access this data. It can be especially concerning if government officials with clearance to sensitive and classified information give away this much of their personal data. Hence, the ban on federal government-issued devices.

Mona Fortier, president of Canada’s Treasury Board, told the BBC that the ban is a proactive measure to keep national secrets secure.

“On a mobile device, TikTok’s data collection methods provide considerable access to the contents of the phone,” she said. “While the risks of using this application are clear, we have no evidence at this point that government information has been compromised.”

The European Commission said that the government entity is banning the app to ensure that no data from members can be used against them in a possible cybersecurity attack. 

Chris DeRusha, the federal chief information security officer, told the Associated Press that the ban is a step in the government’s commitment to “securing our digital infrastructure and protecting the American people’s security and privacy.”

Original Article

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