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The backstory: The popular video-sharing app TikTok, owned by Chinese firm ByteDance, has caused concern among Western officials. Some governments are worried about its potential to expose sensitive information, especially on government devices. They fear the Chinese government could access the information, posing a national security risk.
More recently: Last December, TikTok was caught in a scandal when employees were found accessing user data, casting doubt on ByteDance's assurance that the app is secure and nothing to worry about. So, the US gave the app the boot from government phones.
The development: Now, TikTok is being banned from government devices left and right, with the EU and Canada following the US in restricting the app from official devices. The White House gave government agencies a month to ensure their employees don't have TikTok on their federal devices. Republicans are even working on a bill that would allow President Joe Biden to ban the app nationwide.
But, China has accused the US of overreacting and being too controlling for making employees delete TikTok. A foreign ministry spokesperson said the US is abusing its state power and suppressing fair market competition.
"We firmly oppose those wrong actions," said Mao Ning, China's spokeswoman, during a news briefing on Tuesday. "The US government should respect the principles of market economy and fair competition, stop suppressing the companies and provide an open, fair and non-discriminatory environment for foreign companies in the US … How unsure of itself can the world's top superpower like the US be to fear young people's favorite app like that?"
"In view of cybersecurity concerns, in particular regarding data protection and collection of data by third parties, the European Parliament has decided, in alignment with other institutions, to suspend as from 20 March 2023, the use of the TikTok mobile application on corporate devices," said the European Parliament in a statement.
"These bans are based on basic misinformation about our company, and we are readily available to meet with officials to set the record straight about our ownership structure and our commitment to privacy and data security. We share a common goal with governments that are concerned about user privacy, but these bans are misguided and do nothing to further privacy or security," said a TikTok spokesperson to CNN.