US Navy bans TikTok from government-issued smartphones

TikTok (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • The US Navy has banned TikTok from government-issued mobile devices.
  • It says it's part of an effort to deal with "existing and emerging threats".
  • Users of government issue phones who do not remove the app will be denied access to the Navy Marine Corps Intranet.

The US Navy has banned TikTok from government-issued mobile devices, stating that any users who do not remove the app will not de granted access to the Navy Marine Corps Intranet.

As reported by Reuters, Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Uriah Orland said the move was part of an effort to "address existing and emerging threats." No further information was given as to what danger the app presents. TikTok has come under increasing scrutiny recently because of its ties to China.

The report states:

A Navy spokesman said Naval and Marine personnel who use government-issued smart devices are generally allowed to use popular commercial apps, including common social media apps, but from time to time specific programs that present security threats are banned. He would not give examples of apps that are allowed or those considered unsafe.

The announcement was part of a "Cyber Awareness Message" sent December 16, which "identifies the potential risk associated with using the TikTok app and directs appropriate action for employees to take in order to safeguard their personal information."

Senior Democrat senator Chuck Schumer last month urged the government to investigate TikTok, stating the app posed "a potential counter-intelligence threat we cannot ignore."

It remains to be seen whether other U.S. government departments may follow the Navy's suit in its response to TIkTok.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9

  • Apple could make the iPhone 100000000x more secure by allowing me to "sandbox" apps. Just present it as "should this app be allowed to scan your network?" If not, then it can only go online, not probe the network. Would also be great if ALL permissions could be ask each time, as in "the app asks for Microphone access when I start to record, then has that access revoked when I close the app, or when it's done recording". Would also be great if it showed how much data it was using when idle. As in if I'm not uploading anything, and have notifications off, it should be using 0 bytes of data on LTE and WiFi. But there's no option to only allow an app to use data when I open it, as "background data" seems to still allow it on WiFi.
  • Apps are already sandboxed, that was a key feature of iOS from the get-go, what you want is more permissions, which is a good idea as long as it's executed well. I'm thinking now with the amount of permission popups, they should be grouped with checkboxes or similar if multiple ones are requested at the same time (nothing worse than pressing OK 5 times). Microphone access already alerts you if it's recording outside of the app, which is fine because you can just close the app at that point or go back in and stop recording. I'm not sure how much access an app has to the network once it's closed, I believe this is closely tied to Background App Refresh, which if turned off should get rid of most, if not all background activity outside of notifications (which is more tied to the OS)