TikTok Ban Explained: Countries, Regulations & Challenges in 2024

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TikTok has become much more than just a platform for sharing videos; it’s now at the center of global discussions due to its massive popularity.

On April 20, the US lawmakers have once again passed legislation that could result in a nationwide TikTok ban, posing a serious threat to the company’s US operations. Is TikTok actually getting banned?

Why ban TikTok? In this article, we look into why certain countries have imposed limits or bans on TikTok and how the US is handling the situation.

Key Takeaways

  • Countries across continents have banned or restricted TikTok for reasons including security, content censorship, and youth protection.
  • In the US, TikTok’s situation is complex, with partial bans and debates over legal, technical, and diplomatic challenges.
  • On April 20, the updated ‘divest-or-ban’ TikTok ban bill was supported in the US House of Representatives.
  • On April 23, the US Senate passed a bill that could ban TikTok unless its parent company, ByteDance, sells the app within nine months to a year.
  • This could potentially lead to the first time ever that the US government has passed a law to shut down an entire social media platform.
  • TikTok faces more bans due to fears of ByteDance sharing user data with the Chinese government and spying allegations.
  • Criticism of TikTok centers on its addictive content and potential negative impact on young users’ mental health.
  • Public opinion on banning TikTok is divided, with the outcome in the US dependent on ongoing legal and political developments.

Why Is TikTok Getting Banned?

The push to ban TikTok, a topic central to the global discourse on why ban TikTok, is growing worldwide, particularly in the US. This surge in concern largely stems from national security issues, anchoring the debate on why they want to ban TikTok.

A key concern is how TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance in China, might handle user data.

There’s fear that the Chinese government could force ByteDance to share sensitive user information – which was backed up by a former executive at ByteDance alleging that China’s Communist Party members accessed TikTok users’ data in Hong Kong in 2018.

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In the US, both major political parties support the idea of banning TikTok, highlighting the country’s deep concerns about national security threats. The FBI and the US Department of Justice have been closely examining TikTok following claims that the app was used to spy on American journalists, which has intensified the debate.

This led to TikTok’s ‘Project Texas’, an effort to move US user data to the United States, hoping to address these security worries.

TikTok also faces criticism regarding the content it hosts and its potential impact on mental health, particularly for young users. Issues like addictive content, misinformation, and exposing children to harmful materials have led various countries and organizations to restrict or ban the use of TikTok.

TikTok Bans Around the World

Around the world, from Africa to North America, governments are imposing restrictions or even outright banning TikTok for many reasons. These actions are a result of concerns about national security, content censorship, protection of minors, and maintaining social harmony.

Africa

  • Senegal: Temporarily blocked TikTok after arresting an opposition leader, with plans to regulate the app.
  • Somalia: Banned TikTok and other apps due to harmful content and misinformation, but enforcement is unclear.

Asia

  • Afghanistan: The Taliban government banned TikTok, citing its misleading content and conflict with Islamic laws.
  • Armenia and Azerbaijan: Both Armenia and Azerbaijan faced issues with TikTok during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
  • Bangladesh: Initially banned TikTok for inappropriate content, later lifted the ban with conditions.
  • India: Banned TikTok over national security concerns, briefly lifted the ban, then reinstated it after border tensions with China.
  • Indonesia: Blocked TikTok temporarily for harmful content, lifted the ban after TikTok agreed to censor content.
  • Iran: TikTok is unavailable due to both the platform’s rules and national censorship. This country has highly censored internet access, so it is not necessarily a TikTok-specific ban.
  • Jordan: Temporarily banned TikTok following a police officer’s death in protests.
  • Kyrgyzstan: Banned TikTok over concerns about its impact on children.
  • Nepal: Banned TikTok for disturbing social harmony.
  • Pakistan: Repeatedly banned and unbanned TikTok due to inappropriate content.

Europe

  • European Commission and Council: Prohibited TikTok on official devices. Currently, it is also considering banning a controversial feature in TikTok Lite that is said to be harmful to children.
  • NATO: Banned TikTok on its devices.
  • Several European Nations: Imposed bans on TikTok for government workers due to security and privacy issues. These include Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Ireland, Latvia, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, and the U.K.

Oceania

  • Australia: Banned TikTok on federal government devices, with states considering similar bans.
  • New Zealand: Banned TikTok on parliamentary devices.

North America

  • Canada: Banned TikTok on government devices, with provinces following suit.
  • US: Faces a complex situation with partial bans on government devices and ongoing discussions about a full ban.
  • The US Senate passed a bill that could ban TikTok unless its parent company, ByteDance, sells the app within nine months to a year.

Is TikTok Getting Banned in the US?

TikTok hasn’t been fully banned in the US for now. However, significant steps have been taken about its use.

Montana became the first state to attempt to ban TikTok on all personal devices. This law was supposed to take effect in January 2024. However, in November 2023, a judge put the ban on hold. The judge pointed to concerns about violating the First Amendment, which is about freedom of speech.

The final decision will be made later in 2024 after a court trial. As of March 2024, the Montana TikTok ban remained in the appeals court.

Other significant events include the close scrutiny of TikTok by US authorities. The FBI and the Department of Justice are concerned about claims of TikTok being used for spying, especially after issues were raised about user data security. The House Select Committee on China requested their findings in December 2023.

All this could ultimately lead to TikTok being banned in the US, but there are no certainties at this stage.

When Is TikTok Getting Banned in the US?

As of April 2024, the US government hasn’t yet imposed a nationwide ban on TikTok for personal devices.

In March, the US lawmakers approved a bill that would give TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, six months to sell the popular app or be banned in the US.

Failure to do so could lead to dire consequences: The app would be deleted from US app stores.

The updated TikTok bill comes as part of House Republican speaker Mike Johnson’s foreign aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan and extends ByteDance’s divestment period from six months to a year.

Texas Republican representative Michael McCaul, author of the bill, said as Bloomberg reports:

“This bill protects Americans and especially America’s children from the malign influence of Chinese propaganda on the app TikTok. This app is a spy balloon in Americans’ phones.”

TikTok is currently banned on government phones in many states and at the national level. These bans will probably stay unless there are major changes in the laws about data privacy and security.

In response to the latest actions, TikTok wrote a post and expressed its displeasure:

Following the House vote on April 23, the US Senate passed a bill that could ban TikTok unless its parent company, ByteDance, sells the app within nine months to a year.

Now the bill is expected to be signed into law by President Joe Biden.

Senator Marco Rubio, the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, said, as reported by Reuters:

“For years we’ve allowed the Chinese Communist party to control one of the most popular apps in America that was dangerously shortsighted. A new law is going to require its Chinese owner to sell the app. This is a good move for America.”

Challenges & Counterarguments

The debate over whether to ban TikTok in the US is filled with various challenges and opposing views. These include legal issues, problems with enforcing the ban, and the effects it could have on the economy and US-China relations. Additionally, public opinion on the matter is shifting.

This summary looks into these important points, giving a clearer picture of the complex arguments around banning TikTok.

  • Legal Hurdles: Banning an app like TikTok is legally complex. Since the US values free speech, it’s difficult to justify a total ban on TikTok unless there’s clear evidence that it’s harmful or involved in illegal activities.
  • Technical Difficulties: Enforcing a TikTok ban is challenging. Often, users can get around bans using VPN services and similar tools, making it difficult to fully implement the ban.
  • Economic Impact: Banning TikTok could hurt businesses and influencers who make money from the app.
  • International Relations: A TikTok ban might create tension between the US and China, affecting trade and politics on a larger scale.

Do Americans Want TikTok Banned?

According to the latest CNBC All-America Economic Survey in March, close to half of Americans back a ban or sale of TikTok.

  • 20% of participants said TikTok should be banned no matter what.
  • Another 27% said it should be banned unless it’s sold to a non-Chinese company
  • Altogether, 47% of participants support a ban or a sale.
  • Just over 3 out of 10 people surveyed oppose a ban.

Also, there’s a political divide: more Republicans than Democrats support banning TikTok.

TikTok Bann, CNBC’s All-America Economic Survey

The Bottom Line

Is TikTok getting banned? That depends on the jurisdiction. When is TikTok getting banned in the US? The situation in the US is still unclear, with lots of opposing views expressed.

The decision on TikTok’s ban in the US reflects a bigger challenge in today’s digital world: How do governments keep people safe without limiting freedom and creativity?

The outcome of the TikTok issue will be a key example of how we handle this challenge.

FAQs

Is TikTok getting removed in 2024?

Is TikTok getting banned in the US.?

Why is TikTok banned in Nepal?

Why is TikTok banned in Kenya?

Is TikTok getting banned in the UK 2024?

References

  1. Former ByteDance Executive Claims Chinese Communist Party Accessed TikTok’s Hong Kong User Data – WSJ (The Wall Street Journal)
  2. EXCLUSIVE: TikTok Spied On Forbes Journalists (Forbes)
  3. About Project Texas (TikTok US Data Security)
  4. Senegal seeks regulation deal with TikTok after ban (Reuters)
  5. TikTok Fights Threats of More Bans Around the World (The Wall Street Journal)
  6. Taliban Ban TikTok App in Afghanistan for ‘Misleading the Younger Generation’ (Bloomberg)
  7. Tik Tok fails operating in Armenia (ARMENPRESS)
  8. Təhlükəsizlik Xidməti (Elektron Təhlükəsizlik Xidməti)
  9. Bangladesh court orders ban on TikTok, PUBG, Free Fire to ‘save children’ (New Straits Times)
  10. TikTok app: Google blocks Chinese app TikTok in India after court order (The Economic Times)
  11. TikTok ban lifted in India but it has lost at least 2 million users (Business Insider)
  12. India bans TikTok after Himalayan border clash with Chinese troops (The Guardian)
  13. Indonesia bans Chinese video app Tik Tok for ‘inappropriate content’ (Reuters)
  14. Indonesia overturns ban on Chinese video app Tik Tok (The Straits Times)
  15. Upholding Internet Freedom as Part of the EU’s Iran Policy (Carnegie Europe)
  16. TikTok users in Jordan say platform is ‘back to normal’ (Jordan News)
  17. Kyrgyz Authorities Ban TikTok Citing Effects On Child Development ( RFE/RL)
  18. Nepal to ban TikTok, alleges damaging social impact (Reuters)
  19. Pakistan restores access to TikTok after four bans (The Register)
  20. Top EU bodies, citing security, ban TikTok on staff phones (Reuters)
  21. NATO bans TikTok on devices (CNN Business)
  22. Australian government bans TikTok on government devices (Australia’s leading news site)
  23. New Zealand to ban TikTok on devices linked to parliament, cites security concerns (Reuters)
  24. TikTok banned on all Canadian government devices over ‘unacceptable’ risk (Globalnews.ca)
  25. Montana to become first US state to ban TikTok (Reuters)
  26. US judge blocks Montana from banning TikTok use in state (Reuters)
  27. Montana appealing ruling that blocked state from barring TikTok use (Reuters)
  28. Congress Wants Answers About The FBI And DOJ’s TikTok Investigation (Forbes)
  29. Support for US TikTok ban falls among adults, is low for teens (Pew Research Center)
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Maria Webb
Technology Journalist
Maria Webb
Technology Journalist

Maria is a technology journalist with over five years of experience with a deep interest in AI and machine learning. She excels in data-driven journalism, making complex topics both accessible and engaging for her audience. Her work is prominently featured on Techopedia, Business2Community, and Eurostat, where she provides creative technical writing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Honours in English and a Master of Science in Strategic Management and Digital Marketing from the University of Malta. Maria's background includes journalism for Newsbook.com.mt, covering a range of topics from local events to international tech trends.