Apparently taking a page from the Army’s playbook, the U.S. Navy recently announced that it considers TikTok a “cybersecurity threat” and has banned the popular short-form video app, once a controversial staple of the military’s recruitment strategy, from all government-issued mobile devices.
That’s according to a Navy bulletin issued earlier this week, per a Reuters report. It’s part of the Navy’s proactive approach to “address existing and emerging threats,” according to Pentagon spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Uriah Orland. Service members who fail to remove the app will be unable to access the navy Marine Corps Intranet from their government-issued devices.
While Navy officials didn’t elaborate on its decision, so we don’t know exactly why they consider TikTok to be potentially dangerous, their reasoning likely echoes the same national security concerns politicians and other service members have been sounding for months now.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States is purportedly reviewing TikTok’s relationship parent company ByteDance, which is based in China, after senators on both sides of the aisle pushed for a security probe. In October, senators Chuck Schumer and Tom Cotton outlined their concern in a letter to the acting director of national intelligence, arguing that the Chinese government could potentially demand TikTok’s data on U.S. users, including messages and IP addresses, since “there is no legal mechanism for Chinese companies to appeal if they disagree with a request” from Beijing. Others have also claimed TikTok’s moderators censor content based on the Chinese government’s agenda. All of which TikTok has denied, reiterating multiple times that it doesn’t house U.S. user data in China and isn’t beholden to Chinese law.
Which is all to say that many were none too pleased when the highly memetic app became part of a Gen-Z targeted social media campaign. Despite the campaign being “pretty darn successful,” in the words of Army Recruiting Command Commander Major General Frank Muth, the Army banned cadets from using TikTok last month pending an ongoing national security assessment.
And now it appears the Navy has followed suit. Not that any of this appears to have put a dent in TikTok’s viral success, mind you, what with it recently passing 1.5 billion downloads and gearing up to launch its own music streaming service (if you believe the rumours, that is).
TikTok did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for inquiry.