France to Ban TikTok: Another Country Joins the List of Banning the Video-Sharing App over Privacy and Cybersecurity Concerns
As privacy and cybersecurity concerns increase, France is likely to be the latest country to ban the popular video-sharing app TikTok from government devices. French Civil Service Minister Stanislas Guerini announced on Friday that France would ban the use of TikTok on the work phones of civil servants to guarantee their cybersecurity.
A string of governments and institutions in the West have banned TikTok in recent weeks, including the UK parliament, the Dutch and Belgian administrations, and the New Zealand parliament. India imposed a nationwide ban on TikTok and dozens of other Chinese apps, including WeChat, in 2020 over privacy and security concerns.
Concerns have mounted globally about the potential for the Chinese government to access users’ location and contact data through TikTok’s Chinese parent company ByteDance. The CEO of ByteDance faced grilling from US lawmakers on Thursday, in a rare bipartisan rebuke that reflected a growing penchant to ban the app from the US over its ties to China and handling of user data.
TikTok’s chief executive admitted that user data can be accessed by its Chinese parent company, and the staff in China currently have the ability to see user information. Moreover, TikTok is bound by China’s National Intelligence Law, which compels every Chinese citizen and company to surrender all data to the Chinese Communist Party on request and perform surveillance activities on behalf of the CCP.
TikTok, like many other social media companies, collects users’ personal information, including phone numbers, email addresses, contacts, and Wi-Fi networks. ByteDance has said the company does not share information with the Chinese government, but US officials counter that Chinese law requires the company based in Beijing to make the app’s data available to the CCP.
The China-based app, which counts more than 150 million US users each month, has faced growing scrutiny from government officials over fears that user data could fall into the possession of the Chinese government and that the app could be weaponized by China to spread misinformation. The Biden administration wants ByteDance to divest itself from the short-form video platform.