TikTok is facing increasing restrictions and bans around the world.
In the US, a looming ban and a recent congressional hearing involving TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew made headlines. Additionally, several countries in North America, Europe, and Asia have imposed certain restrictions on the app, primarily due to privacy and cybersecurity concerns related to parent company ByteDance, which has ties to the Chinese government. International government agencies, including the European Commission and NATO, have banned their employees from using TikTok on their company phones, as have federal governments in countries around the world.
Here are the countries that have partially or fully banned the app.
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According to Bloomberg, the Taliban banned TikTok in Afghanistan in April 2022 on the grounds that the platform’s content was “not in accordance with Islamic laws”.
On April 4, Australia banned the app from all federal government devices, citing security concerns from the Home Office. Attorney General Mark Dreyfus said the ban would be imposed “as soon as possible”.
Belgium has banned TikTok from government officials’ work phones. Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said in a statement to Politico: “We must not be naïve: TikTok is a Chinese company that is currently obliged to cooperate with Chinese intelligence agencies.”
Similar to other countries, Canada banned TikTok from all government mobile devices in February this year. Treasury Department President Mona Fortier said the partial ban was because the app posed “an unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security.”
“The decision to remove and block TikTok from government mobile devices is taken as a precautionary measure, particularly given concerns about the legal regime governing information collected from mobile devices, and is in line with the approach of our international partners,” said them in an opinion.
The Danish Ministry of Defense banned its employees from downloading TikTok on their work devices in March. Also related to security considerations, which were assessed by the country’s Center for Cyber Security, employees have been ordered to remove the app as soon as possible.
India took action against TikTok in 2020, imposing a nationwide ban on TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps because “[engaging] engaging in activities that adversely affect India’s sovereignty and integrity, India’s defence, state security and public order.” The government enacted the ban after a deadly border dispute between Indian and Chinese forces. India is the largest country to impose a blanket ban on the app.
While not a total ban, Dutch officials have been told not to use TikTok. The recommendation is in line with several other government bodies, but is less monitored in the Netherlands, a spokesman for the Ministry of General Affairs told Politico.
After several European countries made similar decisions, the New Zealand Parliament announced a ban on TikTok on all personal devices.
“This decision was taken on the basis of the analysis of our own experts and after discussions with our colleagues in government and at international level,” said the government’s statement by Parliamentary Service Director Rafael Gonzalez-Montero. “Based on this information, the service has determined that the risks in the current New Zealand parliamentary environment are unacceptable.”
The Norwegian parliament banned TikTok on government devices in March, but allowed officials to use the app on their personal devices for professional reasons. The country’s justice minister, Emilie Enger Mehl, said in a statement: “Norwegian intelligence services view Russia and China as key risk factors for Norway’s security interests.” Mehl faced some criticism even before the ban for having TikTok on her work phone.
In August 2023, Somalia banned TikTok over concerns about terrorist content. The government said terrorist groups are using platforms like TikTok and Telegram to spread “terrifying images and misinformation to the public.”
In December 2022, Taiwan banned the use of Chinese-made software, including TikTok, on state-owned devices.
UK government ministers have been banned from using TikTok on work phones and devices following a review by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre. Cabinet Secretary Oliver Dowden said in a statement that the government’s decision “is consistent with similar restrictions put in place by key international partners,” citing the US and Canadian governments and the European Commission.
“Given the potentially sensitive nature of information stored on government devices, government policies on managing third-party applications will be tightened and a precautionary ban on TikTok on government devices will be introduced,” the statement said.
In short, it’s complicated. In March, the US demanded that Bytedance sell TikTok or face a total ban in the country. The US has never imposed a nationwide restriction on an app, but is currently debating whether to do the same for TikTok. Federal agencies are being asked to remove the app from employees’ phones, and the White House already doesn’t allow TikTok on devices. CEO Shou Zi Chew recently gave a testimony before Congress defending the app and bringing up “Project Texas,” the company’s initiative to protect user privacy in the United States. The future of TikTok in America remains in question.
On May 17, the Montana House of Representatives passed a ban on TikTok, potentially making the app illegal if the state governor signs the bill into law. The bill would have significant ramifications, including a nationwide ban on individuals’ use of TikTok.
Here’s everything you need to know about the possibility of a US ban on TikTok.