The US Army has banned a popular Chinese social networking app over concerns that it poses a security risk, following warnings by the Pentagon and lawmakers.
Earlier this month, the military instructed servicemen not to keep the app on government-issued phones in response to a Defense Department Cyber Awareness Message which cautioned there were “potential security risks associated with its use,” Military.com reported.
The US army instructed personnel to “be wary of applications you download, monitor your phones for unusual and unsolicited texts etc., and delete them immediately and uninstall TikTok to circumvent any exposure of personal information.”
A US army spokesman told the online publication that TikTok was “considered a cyber threat” and that “we do not allow it on government phones.”
The army, which until recently used the app in its recruitment efforts, is the second branch of the American armed forces, after the navy, to ban it.
According to CNN, several senior US lawmakers have asserted that the company behind the app could be compelled “to support and cooperate with intelligence work controlled by the Chinese Communist Party,” a charge that the company denies.
US legislators have also expressed concerns over other Chinese technology firms, most notably telecommunications giant Huawei.
Last year, the US took steps to prevent soldiers in “operational areas” from broadcasting location data from their smartphones after it emerged that the Strava running app had revealed the positions of troops stationed in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.
When we first started working with the data, we wanted to see if any sensitive sites were included. I zoomed into the Pentagon and saw this.
Our jaws hit the floor.
— Stuart A. Thompson (@stuartathompson) December 19, 2019
Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that location data it had obtained from a domestic data firm had allowed it to identify “people in positions of power” to the degree that the paper’s reporters could follow “military officials with security clearances as they drove home at night.”