Which countries have banned TikTok? Montana becomes first US state to ban the app
Montana has become the first US state to ban Chinese-owned video-sharing platform TikTok over national security concerns.
The bill, signed by the state’s Republican governor on Wednesday, bans TikTok from operating within Montana and prohibits downloads of the app, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance.
The move, which will come into effect in January, is the latest in a series of US attempts to restrict the app over concerns that China may utilise the Beijing-based business to collect user data for political purposes and jeopardise Western security interests.
The app is already banned on government devices in more than half of US states and for federal government employees. The Biden administration has threatened a national ban unless its parent company sells its shares.
TikTok has also been fined £12.7 million by the UK's data watchdog for failing to safeguard children's privacy. Up to 1.4 million UK youngsters under the age of 13 were reportedly permitted to use TikTok in 2020.
According to an inquiry by the Information Commissioner's Office, the video-sharing website exploited the data of children of this age without getting permission from their parents (ICO).
While ByteDance has tried its best to settle lawsuits and appease concerns, some nations have decided to ban it either totally or partially.
Here is a comprehensive look at all the countries that have banned TikTok.
TikTok was banned from UK government phones on March 16.
Security minister Tom Tugendhat had told Sky News he had asked the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to look into the app. He said it was “absolutely essential” to keep the UK’s “diplomatic processes free and safe”.
Montana has become the first US state to ban TikTok from personal devices, a change that will come into effect in January.
On February 28, the US government revealed that it had ordered all of its federal employees to remove TikTok from their government-issued phones to protect confidential data.
More than half of the 50 US states have banned the app from government devices.
A spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry criticised the move, saying: “We firmly oppose those wrong actions. The US government should respect the principles of market economy and fair competition, stop suppressing the companies, and provide an open, fair, and non-discriminatory environment for foreign companies in the US.”
They added: “How unsure of itself can the world’s top superpower like the US be to fear young people’s favourite app like that.”
However, nationwide legislation to ban the app from operating in the US was blocked by lawmakers in March, with concerns about free speech and uneven treatment of social media companies cited.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese agreed to ban TikTok after a review by the Home Affairs department.
Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus declared in a statement that the ban will go into force “as soon as practicable” and that exceptions would only be made where necessary and after taking security precautions.
Lee Hunter, general manager of TikTok for Australia and New Zealand, asserted that the app shouldn't be singled out.
In a statement, Hunter stated that TikTok shouldn't be handled any differently from other social media platforms since “there is no evidence to suggest that it is in any way a security issue for Australians”.
France has banned the “recreational” use of TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, and other apps on government employees’ phones because of concerns about insufficient data security measures.
The ban is to come into force immediately, the Ministry of Public Sector Transformation and the Civil Service wrote on Twitter on March 24.
He added that for several weeks, many of France’s European and international partners have adopted measures to restrict or ban the downloading and installation of or the use of the Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok by their administrations.
Mr Guerini said recreational applications do not have sufficient levels of cybersecurity and data protection in order to be deployed on administrations’ equipment, adding that exemptions can be given for professional reasons, such as institutional communication of an administration.
The North American nation also banned TikTok from being installed on any government-issued devices.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau explained the reason: “I suspect that as government takes the significant step of telling all federal employees that they can no longer use TikTok on their work phones, many Canadians from business to private individuals will reflect on the security of their own data and perhaps make choices,
“I’m always a fan of giving Canadians the information for them to make the right decisions for them.”
The European Union
The wave of bans within the EU began with the European Commission and the EU Council temporarily banning TikTok from employee phones as a cybersecurity measure.
Later, on February 28, the European Parliament revealed that it would follow suit.
Aside from downloading the video-sharing app on their work phones, employees have also been barred from going on the platform on their private devices — if their parliament email and other network accesses are installed on them.
India banned TikTok in June 2020 alongside some other Chinese apps. It believes the app threatens its national security and defence — and that it also encourages pornography.
India was TikTok’s largest international market before the ban, with more than 200 million users.
In 2022, the Taiwanese government banned TikTok from all public-sector devices. This followed concerns that the Chinese government was conducting “cognitive warfare” against the nation.
Pakistan has banned the video-sharing app several times, with the latest ban concluding in November 2021.
In April 2022, a Taliban spokesperson said the government was planning to ban the app. This was because of the negative impact it had on the younger generation and its inconsistencies with their Islamic laws.
It has recently been banned, with the Taliban stating that the app’s “filthy content was not consistent with Islamic laws”, according to The Sun.
In Iran, TikTok is entirely banned as TikTok’s rules and Iran’s laws are not compatible.