TikTok is facing increasing restrictions and bans on a global scale.
In the US, the impending ban and the recent congressional hearing with TikTok CEO Shaw Zi Chu have made a lot of headlines. Beyond that, in North America, Europe and Asia, several countries have imposed some level of restriction on the app, largely due to privacy and cybersecurity concerns related to parent company ByteDance, which has ties to the Chinese government. International government bodies, including the European Commission and NATO, have banned staff from using TikTok on their corporate phones, as have federal governments in countries around the world.
Here are the countries that have imposed partial or full bans on the app.
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The Taliban banned TikTok in Afghanistan in April 2022, saying the platform’s content was “not in accordance with Islamic law,” according to Bloomberg.
On April 4, Australia banned the app from all federal government devices, citing security concerns raised by the Department of Home Affairs. Attorney General Mark Dreyfuss said the ban would be imposed “as soon as practicable”.
Belgium has banned TikTok from the work phones of government officials. Prime Minister Alexandre De Croo said in a statement to Politico: “We cannot be naive: TikTok is a Chinese company that currently has a mandate to cooperate with Chinese intelligence services.”
Like other countries, Canada banned TikTok from all government mobile devices in February this year. Mona Fortier, president of the Treasury Board, 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 consistent with the approach of our international partners,” she said in a statement. .
Denmark’s Ministry of Defense banned employees from downloading TikTok on their work devices in March. Again due to security concerns assessed by the country’s Cyber Security Center, officials were told to remove the app as soon as possible.
India took steps against TikTok in 2020, implementing a nationwide ban on TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps, for “[engaging] in activities that prejudge India’s sovereignty and integrity, India’s defence, state security and public order.” The government imposed the ban following a deadly border clash between Indian and Chinese military forces. India is the largest country to completely ban the app.
In November 2023, Nepal banned TikTok for disturbing “social harmony”. The BBC reported that the ban would take effect immediately, according to Communications and Information Technology Minister Rekha Sharma, who said the app was spreading malicious content. TikTok is widely used in the country, especially by younger and female social media users.
Although not an outright ban, Dutch officials have been told not to use TikTok. The recommendation is in line with several other government offices, but is seen less in the Netherlands, a spokesman for the ministry of general affairs told Politico.
After several European countries made similar decisions, New Zealand’s parliament announced a ban on TikTok on all staff devices.
“This decision was made based on an analysis by our own experts and after discussion with our colleagues in government and internationally,” said the government statement made by the executive director of the Parliamentary Service, Rafael Gonzalez-Montero. “Based on this information, the Office has determined that the risks are unacceptable in New Zealand’s current parliamentary environment.”
Norway’s parliament banned TikTok on government devices in March, but allowed civil servants to use the app for professional reasons on their personal devices. The country’s justice minister, Emily Enger Mell, said in a statement: “Norwegian intelligence services point to Russia and China as major risk factors for Norway’s security interests.” Mel experienced her fair share of scrutiny for having TikTok on her work phone, albeit before the ban.
In August 2023, Somalia banned TikTok due to concerns about terror-related content. The government said terrorist groups were using platforms such as TikTok and Telegram to spread “horrific images and disinformation to the public”.
Government devices in Taiwan were banned from using Chinese-made software, including TikTok, in December 2022.
British government ministers have been banned from using TikTok on official phones and devices following reviews by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre. Cabinet minister Oliver Dowden explained 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, the government’s policy on managing third-party apps will be strengthened and a precautionary ban on TikTok on government devices is being implemented,” 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 placed a national restriction on an app, but is now debating whether to do so for TikTok. Federal agencies have been asked to delete the app from employees’ phones, and the White House no longer allows TikTok on devices. CEO Shou Zi Chew recently testified in Congress defending the app and touting “Project Texas,” the company’s initiative to protect user data in the States. TikTok’s future in America remains in question.
As of May 17, the Montana House of Representatives passed a ban on TikTok, raising the possibility that the app could become illegal if the state’s governor signs the bill. The bill will have significant implications, including a ban on the use of TikTok by individuals across the country.
Here’s everything you need to know about the possibility of TikTok being banned from the US.