TikTok, the popular social media app, has faced increasing scrutiny and regulatory action across the world. While it remains one of the most downloaded apps globally, it has been banned or faced restrictions in several countries due to concerns over data privacy, national security, and inappropriate content.
In this blog, we will take a closer look at the bans and restrictions placed on TikTok in different countries and when these bans were implemented.
As of now, TikTok remains unrestricted and available for use in the United States. Nevertheless, the US government has banned TikTok on all federal government-provided devices, citing concerns about national security due to its China-based parent company, ByteDance. The US is apprehensive that the Chinese government could potentially exploit TikTok to gain access to American user data and the aforementioned devices. Calls to prohibit the app have grown louder, with lawmakers working to pass legislation that would give the Biden administration legal authority to enforce such a ban.
Social media app TikTok has been banned on government electronic devices, the Cabinet Office has announced in March 2023.
After conducting a thorough review of TikTok by Canada’s Chief Information Officer, the Canadian government decided in February 2023 to prohibit the usage of the app on all devices that are provided by the government.
As of March 2023, the Australian Government is anticipated to declare a prohibition on TikTok for government devices imminently; nonetheless, it seems that a comprehensive ban across the country is not being contemplated. Currently, there is no clear indication about the status of the potential TikTok ban in Australia.
In March 2023, New Zealand’s parliament made the decision to ban TikTok from their devices, following the UK government’s recent restrictive action on the app. The move was prompted by growing concerns about ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, sharing user data with the Chinese government. As a result, by the end of March, the app will be blocked on all devices that have access to the parliamentary network.
In March 2023, Belgium’s National Security Council banned the use of TikTok on work phones of government officials.
TikTok has been banned on work devices by Denmark’s Ministry of Defence as of March 2023.
According to a statement by the French Minister of Transformation and the Public Service in March 2023, the government has prohibited TikTok and other “recreational apps” on mobile phones provided to its employees. The statement cited concerns regarding the cybersecurity and data protection standards of such applications, highlighting that they are not suitable for use on government-issued equipment.
For security reasons, the Latvian Foreign Ministry prohibited the usage of the Chinese short video app TikTok on official mobile phones and other official devices in March 2023.
As worries about the privacy and security of TikTok continue to escalate, in March 2023, France, the Netherlands, and Norway have joined a steadily expanding roster of nations that have recently issued directives prohibiting the use of the app on devices issued by their respective governments.
In March 2023, the Norway’s parliament, Storting, made the decision to adopt a ban on TikTok and Telegram for work devices provided by the government to ministers and officials. This ban was introduced after the government announced that the aforementioned apps would no longer be permitted on phones designated for official government use.
In June 2020, India’s government banned TikTok and dozens more Chinese-made apps. In a statement, it said the apps were “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order”. In total, 59 Apps were banned – among them popular messaging app WeChat. The decision came after tensions between India and China escalated due to a border dispute. The ban was initially intended to be temporary, but it was made permanent in January 2021.
In Bangladesh, TikTok was banned in June 2021 by the government due to concerns over the spread of inappropriate content on the platform. The decision came after several protests were held across the country, with many demonstrators claiming that TikTok was promoting obscenity and indecency. Despite the ban, some Bangladeshi users continue to access the app using VPNs or other means.
In Afghanistan, TikTok was banned in November 2020 by the government, along with several other social media apps. The ban was imposed due to concerns over the spread of inappropriate and un-Islamic content on the platform. However, the ban was lifted a few weeks later after TikTok agreed to moderate the content uploaded on its platform.
TikTok has gained immense popularity in Pakistan since its launch in 2016, particularly among young people. However, the app has faced several controversies and challenges in the country. In 2020, the Pakistani government banned TikTok twice, citing concerns over the spread of inappropriate and indecent content. However, the ban was lifted both times after TikTok implemented measures to address these concerns.
Iran has implemented a complete ban on TikTok, irrespective of whether it is installed on a government or an individual’s phone. The reason for the ban is that the laws governing TikTok are in conflict with those of Iran.
On December 16, 2022, the Public Security Directorate in Jordan declared a temporary ban on TikTok citing misuse by some users and the platform’s inability to regulate posts that incite violence and chaos. This decision came a day after a police officer was killed during protests that erupted due to high fuel prices. TikTok was flooded with videos related to the strike and the protests, prompting the authorities to take action and suspend the app temporarily.
In Armenia, TikTok was banned in October 2020, along with several other Chinese-owned apps, due to concerns over national security and data privacy. The ban was part of broader efforts to regulate the use of social media in the country. Despite the ban, many Armenian users continue to access the app using virtual private networks (VPNs) or other means.
Indonesia was one of the first countries to impose a ban on TikTok back in July 2018.The temporary ban was ordered when the Indonesian government accused the app of featuring “pornography, inappropriate content and blasphemy. But the ban was lifted eight days later.
Following a warning from the FBI that TikTok posed a national security threat, Taiwan’s public sector imposed a ban on the app in December 2022. TikTok has been deemed a product that endangers national information and communication security, resulting in the ban of both TikTok and its Chinese version, Douyin.