Mar 21, 2023 - Technology

TikTok bans spread globally

Countries with targeted bans on TikTok
Correction: The map has been updated to show that Indonesia's ban on TikTok was not permanent but temporary and has been lifted. Data: Axios Research; Chart: Rahul Mukherjee/Axios

More than a dozen countries around the world have introduced full, partial or public sector bans on TikTok amid heightened national security concerns.

Why it matters: Most of the bans that have been introduced are limited to public sector or government devices. But a growing number of private companies are unilaterally blocking the app as the U.S. government considers an outright ban if TikTok's Chinese owners don't sell the U.S. version of the app.

Driving the news: The U.K. and New Zealand last week announced measures to block TikTok from government devices, adding to tensions between the app's owners and the Western World.

  • In the U.S., The White House last month gave federal agencies 30 days to remove TikTok from all phones and systems.
  • The Department of Justice and the FBI are currently investigating TikTok for surveilling journalists through the app.

Be smart: As public sector concerns about TikTok spread, private companies and networks are also beginning to take action.

  • Several U.S. colleges are also banning TikTok from their local Internet networks, citing security concerns.
  • The BBC, a government-funded news outlet in the U.K., told staff on Sunday to delete TikTok from their devices unless they need it for "editorial and marketing purposes."

The big picture: TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew argues that selling TikTok to a U.S. company wouldn't address any national security concerns, and instead points to data privacy measures TikTok is taking as a better solution. But lawmakers are still skeptical.

What's next: Chew is expected to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday.

Go deeper: The political realities that make a national TikTok ban tricky

Go deeper