Jul 10, 2020 - Technology

Amazon tells workers to delete TikTok from devices they use for work

Illustration of a TikTok logo with a Made in China tag being cut off.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Amazon, citing security risks, told its employees Friday to uninstall social video app TikTok from any mobile devices they use to access their work email.

Why it matters: The move comes amid a broader backlash against TikTok, in part due to questions around possible ties to Beijing. TikTok is owned by Chinese tech firm ByteDance.

What they're saying: "Due to security risk, the TikTok app is no longer permitted on mobile devices that access Amazon email," Amazon said in the note, which was seen by Axios.

  • The note said for the time being workers can still access TikTok via the browser on their work laptops.
  • "While Amazon did not communicate to us before sending their email, and we still do not understand their concerns, we welcome a dialogue so we can address any issues they may have and enable their team to continue participating in our community," TikTok said in a statement, per Yahoo Finance's Daniel Roberts.
  • An Amazon representative was not immediately available for comment.

Context: Broad concerns about Chinese government influence on ByteDance have periodically given way weeks to more specific security concerns raised around TikTok.

  • A new privacy feature in the next version of Apple's iOS recently revealed that TikTok, alongside a number of other apps, was accessing material users had copied to their device clipboards without their knowledge or consent. TikTok said it would halt the practice.
  • Cybersecurity researchers in the past have found flaws in TikTok that hackers could exploit to steal user information. TikTok has said it has patched such holes as they've been discovered.

The Trump administration is considering banning TikTok over national security concerns. India, which is locked in a border conflict with China, announced last week that it will do just that.

Update: Late Friday Amazon released a statement saying: "This morning’s email to some of our employees was sent in error. There is no change to our policies right now with regard to TikTok.”

Go deeper: TikTok caught in a U.S.-China vise

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