TikTok banned by Navy amid growing data and privacy concerns

Employees should not install the app on their work devices

The popular short-form video platform, TikTok, has been banned by the Navy.

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The Naval Network Warfare Command released an awareness bulletin through its Navy Marine Corps Intranet directing employees not to install or uninstall the app from government-furnished mobile devices, like iPhones and iPads.

“This decision was made based on cybersecurity threat assessments,” CDR Dave Benham, director of public affairs for the U.S. Fleet Cyber Command and U.S. 10th Fleet, said in a statement to FOX Business. He said the move “is consistent with 10th Fleet efforts to proactively address existing and emerging threats in defense of our networks.”

In November, TikTok’s Chinese connections became a point of contention at a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing after the U.S. government launched a national security review of its parent company, TikTok parent company ByteDance in late October.

The review, “How Corporations and Big Tech Leave Our Data Exposed to Criminals, China and Other Bad Actors,” was set to determine if privacy laws, like storing U.S. user data in China and removing content at the request of the Chinese government, were broken.

“If you don't know what TikTok is, you should,” Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., who chaired the hearing, said, calling the company “a Chinese-owned social media platform so popular among teens that Mark Zuckerberg is reportedly spooked.” A company “compromised by the Chinese Communist Party knows where your children are,” he added, it “knows what they look like, what their voices sound like, what they're watching, and what they share.”

This latest move away from TikTok comes as the company is looking to move away from its ties to China to escape its bad image linked with the country. The brand does not have a main hub, but top executives work mostly from Singapore, per the Wall Street Journal.

Several reports, including an extensive investigation from The Guardian, show TikTok officials censored content that did not agree with the Chinese government like posts that mention Tibetan independence or Falun Gong, a religious group banned in the country.

CHINA-BASED TIKTOK SHOPPING FOR HQ IN OTHER COUNTRIES

A company spokesperson told the FOX Business that the move could help TikTok enter bigger markets in Southeast Asia, Europe or the United States: “We have been very clear that the best way to compete in markets around the globe is to empower local teams. TikTok has steadily built out its management in the countries where it operates.”

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The social network has exploded into popularity since 2017 from Musical.ly, a similar app that let users lip-sync popular songs, when it was purchased and rebranded as TikTok. Global downloads have outpaced that of Instagram and Snapchat, according to mobile-data firm App Annie. It had a whopping 665 million monthly active users in October.

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