The United States has ordered federal agencies to remove the popular video sharing service TikTok from all government devices within 30 days.
The ban follows similar actions recently ordered by governments in Canada, the European Union, Taiwan and more than half of American states.
Congress voted in December to ban federal employees from using TikTok on government-owned devices. The vote was the latest legislative effort to restrict Chinese companies. Numerous politicians have accused TikTok of presenting national security risks to the U.S.
Both the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have warned that TikTok’s owner, the Chinese company ByteDance, could be sharing user data with the government.
More than two-thirds of American teenagers use TikTok. The app has grown in popularity because it can start new trends in many areas of pop culture. Critics have said ByteDance could be sharing huge amounts of private user data to China’s government.
Some American lawmakers have also argued that China could use TikTok to spread misinformation. Legislators in the U.S. and Europe have also raised concerns about TikTok’s content and suggested it can harm young users’ mental health.
ByteDance rejects the criticisms and says misinformation is largely to blame for them. In a statement, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Tuesday banning TikTok from U.S. government devices represents an “abuse of state power.”
The U.S. government “has been overstretching the concept of national security and abusing state power to suppress other countries’ companies," Mao Ning told a daily briefing. “How unsure of itself can the U.S., the world’s top superpower, be to fear a young person's favorite app to such a degree?” she added.
TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter called the U.S. government ban “little more than political theater.”
On Monday, Canada announced it was joining the U.S. in banning TikTok from all government-owned devices.
Canadian Treasury Board President Mona Fortier said the Chief Information Officer of Canada had found that TikTok “presents an unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security.” The app was to be removed from Canadian government-issued phones on Tuesday.
In Brussels, the European Union’s leadership division said last week it had temporarily banned TikTok from phones used by employees as a security measure.
Both conservative and liberal lawmakers in the U.S. Congress have expressed concern about the app. The “No TikTok on Government Devices Act” was passed in December as part of a larger Congressional budget proposal. The legislation does permit TikTok to be used in some cases, including research activities related to national security and law enforcement issues.
On Tuesday, Republican Party lawmakers are expected to move forward with a bill that would give President Joe Biden, a Democrat, the power to ban TikTok nationwide. Such legislation could help the administration fight possible court battles if Biden’s government decided to move forward with economic restrictions against ByteDance.
I’m Bryan Lynn.
The Associated Press and Reuters reported on this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the reports for VOA Learning English.
Words in This Story
trend – n. a current style or liking
concept – n. a general idea or thought
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