The USA, the European Commission, Belgium and other countries have called on civil servants to remove Tiktok as soon as possible due to non-specific security concerns. While the popular video sharing app claims it has not been informed of any problems, countries that have already banned the use of Tiktok on government devices remain weary of any potential risks.
With over 1 billion users, including 150 million in Europe and every fourth person in the UK, any perceived threat to user data safety could deal a major blow to Tiktok’s reputation. This was demonstrated in June 2020, when a similar ban in India, driven by geopolitical tensions, resulted in an instant loss of 200 million users from the app’s common user base. Tiktok managed to survive due to strong growth in other regions.
Tiktok has distanced itself from China, its country of origin, by claiming that its parent company, BYTEDANCE, is based in the offshore zone of the Cayman Islands and not in Beijing. However, the app’s development in China and existing connections cannot be ignored. This has led to significant resistance to the app’s growth around the world as its ties to China become a political weapon against those skeptical of the country’s intentions.
Tiktok has repeatedly denied any requests from Beijing to transfer user information and pledged to resist such requests in the future. Nevertheless, governments continue their scrutiny and demand answers from the company. While there is currently no evidence to suggest that Tiktok is more dangerous for users than any other app, data may emerge in the future that could change this.