Pentagon Advises Military Personnel To Delete TikTok App Due To Chinese Spyware Threat

Several branches of the U.S. military have demanded that their personnel delete the popular TikTok app from their smartphones. The social media app, which is one of the world's most popular, shares short clips set to music. However, as it is Chinese-owned, and the Department of Defense has voiced its concerns over possible security issues.

"Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command has blocked TikTok from government-issued mobile devices," Capt. Christopher Harrison, a United States Marine Corps spokesman, said on Friday, via The New York Times.

"This decision is consistent with our efforts to proactively address existing and emerging threats as we secure and defend our network. This block only applies to government-issued mobile devices," the spokesman said.

The move comes after a December 16 message the Pentagon sent to the various military branches. In their missive, they stated that there was a "potential risk associated with using the TikTok app."

The Department of Defense added that the best way to ensure that personnel information was safeguarded was by removing the app entirely, at least from military-related phones.

"Doing so will not prevent already potentially compromised information from propagating, but it could keep additional information from being collected," the Pentagon's message said.

The Marine Corps follows the lead of the U.S. Army, which banned the popular app last month after the original warning.

"Those who have a government issued device are requested to remove the application," said Lt. Col. Robin Ochoa, an Army spokeswoman.

man holding iphone
Unsplash | Alvaro Reyes

Though neither TikTok, nor its parent company, ByteDance, issued any comment on the move, the general manager of TikTok US, Vanessa Pappas, had previously defended the company's commitment to privacy.

"As we have said before, and recently confirmed through an independent security audit, we store all US user data in the United States," she wrote, adding however that they did use backup redundancy in Singapore.

Pappas also stated that no TikTok data centers were located in China.

The concerns about TikTok come after a battle over Huawei and its 5G network. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the controversial Chinese technology company has been banned in numerous countries due to concerns that it would pass user information along to the Communist Party.

This is also not the first app that the Pentagon has banned from military phones. It had also prohibited Pokémon GO. However, though the app was also offered from a Chinese company, the reason behind its ban was less of a fear of spyware than distraction. Officials claimed that the app lowered productivity and also made personnel more likely to get injured, due to playing the game while walking or driving.