Globally TikTok Raises Security Risks

Vietnam and Australia implement restrictions on TikTok, due to continued policy violations and security risks

TikTok continues to spark global controversy as countries continue to consider restricting and even banning the platform. A host of countries have already implemented a partial or total ban on the app. Restricting the use of the app on government-owned and operated devices.

While, Vietnam has announced that it will launch a probe into the ‘harmful content and false information’ stemming from TikTok. The Australian government recently banned the use of TikTok on all government devices, due to concerns over national security risks.

Countries Already Implementing TikTok Ban

  • India – India banned TikTok and other Chinese apps, including WeChat, in 2020 due to privacy and security concerns.
  • United States – Due to data security concerns, the US government has instructed its agencies to remove TikTok from federal devices and systems by the end of March.
  • Denmark – Denmark’s Defense Ministry announced on March 6th that they would ban the use of a certain app on official units as a cybersecurity measure.
  • Norway – The Norwegian parliament prohibited the use of TikTok on work devices on March 23, as per the advisory from the country’s Justice Ministry about not installing the app on government-issued mobile devices.
  • The Netherlands – The Dutch government has advised against using apps from countries that have a history of cyber attacks targeting the Netherlands or Dutch interests on phones provided by the government.
  • France – The French government has prohibited the use of “recreational” apps including TikTok on the work phones of 2.5 million civil servants, effective from March 24.
  • The UK – In a statement to the UK’s House of Commons on March 16, Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State in the Cabinet Office, announced an immediate ban of the app on government official devices.
  • Belgium –  Belgium’s federal government announced on March 10th that they will be banning TikTok on their devices due to concerns surrounding cybersecurity, privacy, and misinformation.
  • Australia – Australia issued a ban on TikTok for all federal government-owned devices on April 4, citing security concerns.

Vietnam Investigates Policy Violations on the Platform

Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communications stated that TikTok would be subject to a ‘comprehensive inspection’, along with the warning of ‘strict fines’ if they are found guilty of breaching the regulations.  Over 2.43 million and 1.7 million Vietnamese-made TikToks were removed from the platform in Q1 of 2023 and Q4 of 2022, respectively, all in breach of Vietnamese guidelines. Vietnam has the 6th largest number of users on the platform (49.9 million) worldwide.

Le Quang Tu Do, the Head of Vietnam’s Radio, TV and Electronic Information, said the department would conduct an inter-ministerial inspection of TikTok in May 2023.

Le Quang Tu Do

Do stated, “TikTok has no effective control measures over content which violates politics, against party and state, fake news, toxic content,”. Do also said the lack of regulations and control was “facilitating the dissemination of fake news, causing losses in economics and social instability”.

Australia Bans TikTok for Gov. Employees with News Outlet SKY Australia Following Suite

Australia stopped the use of TikTok on all devices owned by the federal government due to security reasons April 4th. According to a notice issued by the Attorney General’s Department, TikTok has been identified as a potential threat to privacy and security due to its extensive data collection activities and vulnerability to being directed by a foreign government, which is against Australian law. Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus has stated that a ban on TikTok will be implemented as soon as possible, based on advice from intelligence and security agencies.

Media organizations around the globe are reconsidering their connection to Beijing-based TikTok, as it is perceived as a potential security risk. Even though it has become an integral aspect of contemporary digital strategies that aim to engage a broader audience.

Sky News Australia has decided to stop publishing on the platform to prioritize the security of its journalists and audiences. This means that they will be leaving behind 65,000 followers and millions of views, a casualty of the break.  But, considered necessary for their consistent approach to security.

Many consider TikTok to be a spy network masquerading as a social media platform.  TikTok has admitted to illegally pilfering the data of journalists, public citizens, and politicians, In which Bytedance explained was done to track internal leaks within the company. For many news publishers, the risks are too significant to ignore and outweigh any potential benefits.

Jack Houghton

“If the platform is such high a risk of espionage that corporate phones must be purged, then morally, how can newsrooms justify emboldening that ecosystem with content and drawing more viewers to the service?” said Sky News –Jack Houghton

 

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