TikTok bans explained: Everything you need to know


Each government organization that has banned TikTok from devices has cited security concerns. Each country’s primary concern is that the Chinese government could order ByteDance to hand over the data it collects about its users. Western governments are adamant that if the Chinese government could access user data, security interests would be exposed. 

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In TikTok’s privacy policy, it states that when you create an account, upload content, or interact with the platform in any way, TikTok can and will collect the following:

  • Any account and profile information (name, age, username, phone number, profile image, email, and password).
  • Any user-generated content uploaded to the app (audio recording, photos, comments, and videos).
  • Direct messages.
  • Any information used to purchase something through the app (card numbers, names, information from third-party payment apps, billing, and shipping address).
  • Your contacts.
  • Your IP address, time zone, device IDs, network type, and your device model.
  • Your approximate location and, with your permission, your precise location.

According to a study from The Georgia Institute of Technology’s Internet Governance Project, TikTok’s data harvesting is consistent with social-networking industry norms. However, TikTok’s possible ties to the Chinese government make it a concern.

Although TikTok’s data-gathering techniques are common, if the data collected about U.S. users falls into the wrong hands, it’s enough information to sufficiently study their digital footprints. 

The U.S. government also can and has accessed user data from U.S.-based tech companies such as Google, Meta, Microsoft, and Apple. However, U.S. tech companies can reject or push back on government requests to access user data. To operate in China, Chinese tech companies must always turn over data to the government when requested.

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Some governments are worried about the geopolitical consequences if the Chinese government accessed this much Western user data. It can be especially concerning if government officials with clearance to sensitive and classified information give away their personal data — and that’s why the ban on federal government-issued devices is being enforced.


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