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US Navy bans TikTok from mobile devices saying it's a cybersecurity threat

Guardian Technology 21 Dec 2019 06:17
The US government has opened a national security review of TikTok’s owner Beijing-based ByteDance technology company. Photograph: Dado Ruvić/Reuters

The United States Navy has banned the social media app TikTok from government-issued mobile devices, saying the popular short video app represented a cybersecurity threat.

A bulletin issued by the Navy on Tuesday showed up on a Facebook page serving military members, saying users of government issued mobile devices who had TikTok and did not remove the app would be blocked from the Navy Marine Corps Intranet.

The Navy would not describe in detail what dangers the app presents, but Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Uriah Orland said in a statement the order was part of an effort to “address existing and emerging threats”.

TikTok did not return a request for comment.

TikTok is hugely popular with US teenagers, but has come under scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers in recent months. It was launched in 2017, shortly before being merged with an American company, Musical.ly, that ByteDance purchased for a reported $1bn in order to boost the growth of the app.

A Navy spokesman said Naval and Marine personnel who use government issued smart devices are generally allowed to use popular commercial apps, including common social media apps, but from time to time specific programs that present security threats are banned. He would not give examples of apps that are allowed or those considered unsafe.

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