TikTok may be one of the quickest-growing social networks in the history of the Internet, but it is also becoming the fastest-growing security threat and a thorn in the side of the US-China hawks.
The latest reports by Reuters and the South China Morning Post suggested that this past week the US Navy published a notice, which stated that TikTok will no longer be permitted to be installed on service members’ devices; otherwise, they may face expulsion from the military service’s intranet.
This notice is just the latest example of the challenges that TikTok is facing. Recently, Josh Hawley, Missouri’s senator demanded a national security review of TikTok and its Beijing-based parent company, ByteDance, along with other tech companies that may circulate data with foreign governments. The US government was concerned regarding the leak of confidential communication, which led to the demand for a ban on the social network. These situations have led to the unwinding of the acquisition of the gay social network app Grindr from its Chinese owner Beijing Kunlun.
Both Sides are Affected
Tech companies are taking blows due to the intensity of criticism from both sides of the Pacific. Companies on both sides are finding it increasingly challenging to manage their work across the divide. Similar challenges were faced by the NBA and Google. The latter’s Project Dragonfly, which is a China-focused search engine, was not implemented due to the rift between the two nations.
The interesting thing to look out for here is that the companies on both sides are struggling with each other’s policies. Chinese companies such as ByteDance are increasingly being targeted and stricken out of the US market, while American companies are still struggling to get a foothold in China. That creates a more equal playing field than it has been in the past, but it is for sure a less free and healthy market than it could be.
While the trade fight between China and the US continues, the companies that fail to play within the lines set by policymakers will have to bear the collateral damages. Whether any tech company can bridge that divide in the future, unfortunately, remains a mystery.
“Cyber Awareness Message”
The Navy did not describe in detail what dangers the app presents. However, Pentagon spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Uriah Orland, said in a statement the order was a part of an effort to “address existing and emerging threats.”
After the security concerns were raised by Senator Chuck Schumer, the US army cadets were instructed not to use TikTok.
A Navy spokesman pointed out that Naval and Marine personnel who possess government-issued smart devices are generally permitted to use popular commercial apps, including common social media apps, but from time to time certain programs that hold security threats are banned.
The Pentagon’s Orland said the “Cyber Awareness Message” sent December 16 “identifies the potential risk associated with using the TikTok app and directs appropriate action for employees to take in order to safeguard their personal information.”
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