30 day deadline: White House enforcing strict government TikTok ban


The White House on Monday set a 30-day deadline for federal agencies to remove TikTok from all government-issued devices, months after Congress voted to ban the use of the Chinese-owned social media app on government devices over national security concerns.
Federal agencies have been handed a 30-day deadline to ensure that TikTok is purged from all government-issued devices. Image: Getty
Key Facts

Shalanda Young, the director of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, said in guidance that federal agencies must delete TikTok from staff and federal contractors’ work devices within 30 days, unless there are exceptions.

The guidance allows for limited exceptions to the ban, including its use in “law enforcement activities, national security interests…and security research” with prior approval.

However, agencies will not be allowed to issue blanket approval for the use of the app and exceptions can only be made on a case-by-case basis.

Agencies have also been ordered to block TikTok’s installation on government devices and prevent any internet traffic between the app and these devices.

Federal agencies have been given a 90-day timeline to include the ban in any of their future contracts while also canceling any existing contracts that require the use of the app.

TikTok has not responded to Forbes’ request for comment.

What To Watch For

The House Foreign Affairs Committee will debate a bill Tuesday that would allow the president to completely ban TikTok in the U.S. The bill was introduced by the committee’s chair Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) who has expressed concerns that the social media app was giving the Chinese government “a back door into our phones.” In March, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is set to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on the app’s data handling policies, privacy measures and its relationship with the Chinese government.


Key Background

The White House order is the latest in a series of actions undertaken by Western governments against the use of TikTok on their staffers’ devices. On Monday, the Canadian government banned the use of the app on government-issued devices, citing “unacceptable” levels of risk to privacy and national security. Last week, the European Commission took a similar step, ordering all staffers to delete the app from both their work and personal devices, citing security reasons. In December, the TikTok ban on U.S. government devices was included as part of a $1.7 trillion spending bill passed by Congress.

Chief Critic

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning criticised the move and accused the U.S. government of “overstretching the concept of national security and abusing state power to suppress other countries’ companies…How unsure of itself can the U.S., the world’s top superpower, be to fear a favourite young person’s favourite app to such a degree?”

Forbes Australia issue 3 is out now. You can pick up your copy at all good newsagents or become a member here.

More from Forbes Australia