Why Is TikTok Considered a Threat to National Security in the US?

The popular video-sharing app became a center of controversy in the U.S after President Donald Trump declared it to be a threat to national security. There were even talks of banning the app in the U.S. The app is widely used by teenagers for sharing short videos and has over 100 million U.S users.

So, why is it considered a threat to America? We asked security analysts and data privacy experts to elaborate on this and here is what they say;

Is TikTok REALLY a Threat to America?

“Videos, lip-synch to music, watch funny content and connect with the world around them. But, according to some, the app is a huge national security threat. Why? It all comes back to TikTok’s owner. Chinese company ByteDance is the developer and owner of TikTok. Because of this – and China’s uncomfortable and uneasy relationship with America – some people think that Chinese authorities will use TikTok to spy on Americans and possibly spread misinformation or censor free speech. 

“The fact that TikTok came from China is what makes people uncomfortable with it. However, to be fair there has been no evidence of anything nefarious happening on TikTok. For now, it seems relatively safe…although the American government will likely keep an eye on it for the foreseeable future.”

Eric Florence, Cybersecurity Analyst SecurityTech.org

  1. Vulnerable Security Features

“As a CEO, I can say that TikTok is a social media platform that became very appealing to users because of its entertainment and social features. But a popular statement claimed it to be a threat to national security. One reason for this is the vulnerability of the security features of the application. In an engagement with a digital tool or application, it is the responsibility of the company to protect and keep the user’s information confidential. 

“However, various security issues exist in this app such as the possible unauthorized collection of personal or users’ data, censorship issues, and COPPA violation. If a material population, including those that are in relation or the actual person that has a special role in the government or security department, of a certain country has an account in this, it can be harmful and lead to a problematic situation if their data are accessed and used illegally. All in all, I can say that the weak security system of the app is the very reason why it is considered a national threat.”

Stephen Curry, Chief Executive Officer CocoSign

According to Jesse David Thé, “Months ago, the internet was going nuts because former president Trump was threatening to ban the video app, and several state organizations like the Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration, and the United States Armed Forces have banned the use of Tik Tok on government phones;

  1. Owned By A Chinese Company

“The reason behind this panic is mainly that Tik Tok is a Chinese App owned by a Chinese company. If you don’t know about this, the Chinese government usually has access to a lot of things regarding technology and the usage of the internet. In fact, the Chinese communist party is famous for banning the usage of several platforms that are common in the western, and they have also been accused of using internet platforms to control its population and further instigate censorship.” (Jesse David Thé)

  1. Access to Personal User Data

“The red flags that the U.S government has seen are that Tik Tok, like any other social media platform, has access to certain data from your phone like your location, contacts, calendar events, etc. According to Tik Tok, this is all used for its algorithm, to further personalize the content shown to you. Still, the U.S government doesn’t trust this and believes that the Chinese government could use the app for economic espionage, blackmail and other nefarious activities.

“It is important to highlight that, to this day, this hasn’t been proved as a real threat.”

Jesse David Thé, CEO of Tauria; B2B SaaS platform on a mission to make digital privacy the new standard.

  1. Cybersecurity Threats

“Any social media platform has the potential to be a threat to national security, especially since these private corporations would be in want of capitalizing on the data they compound during their operations. The wildly popular TikTok, in particular, is noted by security experts to collect sensitive data from content creators and the browsing audience alike. 

“The regular user has no idea how much of their data is being collected, and what the platform is able to do with all this data. Given the scale of popularity of this app, the sheer amount of private information it has in store makes it vulnerable to the worst cyber security attacks.”

Sharon Van Donkelaar, Chief Marketing Officer Expandi

Coleen Cotto
Writer Coleen is one of our geeks when it comes to online security- whether digital assets, personal data and other topic involving technological information.