January 12, 2023
The video app TikTok has been facing intense scrutiny over its data privacy practices. The company has reassured customers and governments in major markets (including the United States) that users’ data privacy is protected, and that the platform poses no threat to national security. However, the recent revelation that employees of its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, improperly accessed the data of two journalists has called these assurances into question. ByteDance has acknowledged that its Code of Conduct was seriously violated, and that the company no longer employs the employees involved.
TikTok has also faced scrutiny over its perceived ties to the Chinese government. The popular video app says it is a privately-owned company, yet it has acknowledged that employees in China have access to U.S. user data under strict and limited situations. U.S. lawmakers and government officials have expressed concerns that the platform could be used to gather intelligence or influence public opinion in the United States. Following bans in 19 states, TikTok is now banned on any device owned and managed by the U.S. House of Representatives lawmakers and their staff, the Senate has unanimously voted to approve the No TikTok on Government Devices Act, and the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill includes provisions prohibiting the use of TikTok on executive branch devices.
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