US Politicians Told to Delete TikTok

John Lister's picture

TikTok has been banned from all US federal government devices over security fears. The ban even extends to phones issued to members of the House of Representatives.

The government ban was introduced in the "omnibus" spending bill recently passed by Congress. It gives federal employees two months to delete the app, along with any others issued by developers ByteDance, from government-issued handsets.

Although the bill did not cover politicians, the House of Representatives chief administrative Catherine Szpindor has written to the house's members and staff to say the rules will now apply to them. (Source:

Chinese Data Concerns

For those who've managed to avoid TikTok, it's an app where users create and share short videos. Unlike YouTube or social media services, users don't directly control what they see or the order in which they see clips. Instead, the app uses an algorithm that tries to learn the user's interests, taking into account factors such as how quickly they swipe away from a video.

However, the app also collects a lot of personal data to help the customization, including the user's web browsing history, contacts and what other apps they use. That's raised major security concerns given developers Bytedance are ultimately a Chinese company.

Security experts say Bytedance could either voluntarily hand over data to Chinese officials or be forced to do so. They also fear the app could misuse the access it has to use data, for example access to photos and videos on the device.

Politicians Still On App

India has already outright banned TikTok, a move Federal Communications Commissioner (FCC) Brendan Carr called an "incredibly important precedent". During his time in the Oval Office, Donald Trump threatened a similar ban in the US but was unable or unwilling to follow through. (Source:

Despite the concerns, many politicians still use TikTok, with an estimated one in three candidates in the mid-term elections having an account. Some House of Representatives members use the app actively, creating and sharing videos with the hope of appealing to, and communicating with, a younger demographic.

While the House ban is symbolic, it may not have much practical effect as it doesn't (and very likely could not) apply to use of politician's personal devices.

What's Your Opinion?

Are the House and government employee bans right? Should Apple and Google ban the app from their official stores? Would you support a complete ban on TikTok in your country?

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matt_2058's picture

See what's wrong with Congress?

--They include crap like this in a spending bill
--They think they can apply rules to Federal employees, but exclude themselves(even though they are considered Federal employees, even for all benefits and pension)
--They refused the initial warnings about this app, but are adamant about it now AFTER the mid-terms and they've gotten their use out of it

What all these clowns are forgetting is that using the Govm't device for personal use (TikTok, or otherwise) is against policy already. But this is Congress and bureaucracy is King.