United States Army soldiers has been restricted from using TikTok on government-owned phones following a decision to ban the app. The decision comes amidst ongoing worries that the video app owned by Beijing-based company ByteDance could compromise national security or be used to influence or surveil Americans.
“It is considered a cyber threat,” Army spokeswoman Lt. Col. Robin Ochoa told Military.com, which broke the news on December 30th. The army reportedly used TikTok to recruit members prior to the ban.
Both the Navy and Defense Department sounded alarms on TikTok earlier this month. The Navy previously told its members not to add the app, and to delete it from government-issued devices if it was already installed.
According to military.com “The Defense Department also instructed employees 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.”
TikTok has been under scrutiny from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) after lawmakers called for an investigation in October to see whether the Chinese government can collect users’ data or control the content that’s shared.
Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York) pointed to the potential for TikTok to be used in election meddling and to silence Hong Kong protesters.
The CFIUS is also considering whether ByteDance will be forced to divest in Musical.ly, the app it acquired in 2017 and later rebranded it as TikTok.