TikTok reels from multiple US government bans and lawsuits

The news: Local governments are banning the use of TikTok, ostensibly to reduce security risks, and Indiana is filing two lawsuits against the company.

TikTok faces a deluge of complaints: Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced an emergency cybersecurity directive to prohibit the app’s use, saying TikTok could be involved in cyberespionage, government surveillance, and inappropriate collection of sensitive personal information.

  • Negative sentiment against TikTok for fear of spying has led other state officials to ban the app on government devices and offices in South Dakota, South Carolina, Nebraska, and Texas.
  • The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and US Armed Forces have also prohibited the app on their devices, per Insider.

Indiana’s attorney general filed two lawsuits against TikTok over the safety of users’ data and the platform’s treatment of underage users—including how it exposes children to drugs, alcohol, profanity, and explicit material. 

  • One lawsuit accuses TikTok of falsely claiming it was appropriate for users between 13 and 17 years old.
  • The second lawsuit alleges that users' data can be accessed by Chinese authorities.

TikTok’s response: “The safety, privacy and security of our community is our top priority. We build youth well-being into our policies, limit features by age, empower parents with tools and resources, and continue to invest in new ways to enjoy content based on age-appropriateness or family comfort," a spokesperson told Insider.

Possible outcomes: Continued reprisal against TikTok from US government agencies and local governments could expand into the public sector, with businesses, schools, and other organizations banning the app to safeguard user data.

  • ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, will need to erase any suspicion of espionage, especially as it negotiates a deal with the US government.
  • A permanent TikTok ban, while unlikely, would benefit Meta, Instagram, YouTube, Snap, and other social media outlets.

This article originally appeared in Insider Intelligence's Connectivity & Tech Briefing—a daily recap of top stories reshaping the technology industry. Subscribe to have more hard-hitting takeaways delivered to your inbox daily.

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