Following in the footsteps of the US Navy, the US Army has now banned the popular Chinese-made application TikTok from all government issued mobile devices, stating that the video app could represent a serious cybersecurity threat.
Robin Ochoa, a spokeswoman for the Army, told Military.com “It is considered a cyber threat. We do not allow it [TikTok] on government phones.”
TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Beijing-based tech company valued at around $75 billion. The short-form video application has been on the radar of US officials for quite some time now, with concerns over the possibility of the Chinese government using TikTok to spy on US soldiers and high ranking officials.
U.S. Army bans TikTok on military devices, signaling growing concern about app’s Chinese roots https://t.co/AN1CUsRczA
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) December 31, 2019
According to a Navy spokesman, ground and naval personal are indeed allowed to use commercial social media apps on government issued phones. However, specific apps and programs which pose a security threat are banned, although he did not state what those banned or ‘unsafe’ apps were.
An Army spokesperson told CNET in a statement that, “there was a Cyber Awareness Message sent out on 16 December that identifies TikTok as having potential security risks associated with its use. The message directs appropriate action for employees to take in order to safeguard their personal information. The guidance is to be wary of applications you download, monitor your phones for unusual and unsolicited texts etc. and delete them immediately and uninstall TikTok to circumvent any exposure of personal information.”
While there is no evidence that sensitive information is being stolen or that suspicious activity is being undertaken by ByteDance, there is the possibility that the Chinese owned company could gather and forward soldiers sensitive information to the Chinese government, which could be used for a variety of purposes.