Dec 31, 2019

Army bans TikTok from government-owned phones

Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

The Army has banned its soldiers from using TikTok on government-owned phones, calling the Chinese-owned video app a cyber threat, reports Military.com.

Why it matters: The move, coupled with the Navy's similar decision earlier this month, highlights how seriously the military and government are taking TikTok's potential national security implications.

  • The Department of Defense has issued guidance telling its employees not to use the app, and lawmakers have called for investigations into its security.
  • Troops will still be allowed to use the app on their personal devices, though officials have warned military personnel to be careful about divulging personal information.
  • Military.com said it remains unclear if the Air Force or Marine Corps have taken similar action against TikTok.

Of note: The Army announced an advertising campaign last month designed to recruit members of Generation Z that utilized outreach via TikTok.

The other side: TikTok says that its "user data is stored and processed in the U.S. and other markets where TikTok operates at industry-leading third-party data centers. It’s important to clarify that TikTok does not operate in China and that the government of the People's Republic of China has no access to TikTok users' data."

Go deeper: TikTok is China's next big weapon

Go deeper

Obama praises young protesters, urges mayors to pursue police reforms

Former President Barack Obama called on all mayors to review their use-of-force policies and commit to policing reform in a virtual town hall Wednesday hosted by the Obama Foundation's My Brothers Keepers Alliance.

Why it matters: Obama has addressed the killing of George Floyd and the nationwide protests that followed on social media and in a Medium post, but this was his first time speaking about the past week's events on camera. His voice will add weight to the growing pressure on local, state and federal officials to pursue policing reforms.

James Mattis condemns Trump as a threat to the Constitution

Mattis on Fox in Septemnber 2019 in New York City. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis condemned President Trump for making a "mockery of our Constitution" in a statement to The Atlantic on Wednesday, saying he was "appalled" at the president's response to mass protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing.

Why it matters: Trump’s former defense secretary had refrained from publicly criticizing his former boss since resigning in 2018.

American society is teetering on the edge

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The COVID-19 pandemic, record unemployment and escalating social unrest are all pushing American society close to the breaking point.

The big picture: Civilizations don't last forever, and when they collapse, the cause is almost always internal failure. Even in the midst of one of our darkest years, the U.S. still has many factors in its favor, but the fate of past societies holds frightening lessons for what may lie ahead.