The US Navy issued a bulletin uploaded to a Facebook page serving military members earlier this week, saying that service members are to delete the Chinese video-sharing app TikTok from government-issued phones or face exclusion from the military intranet, Reuters reported Saturday.
The bulletin says the demand was issued because the application presents a “cybersecurity threat,” but did not elaborate. Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Uriah Orland said in a statement that the order was part of an effort to “address existing and emerging threats,” according to Reuters report.
According to the Reuters report, Orland said the bulletin, sent Dec. 16, “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.”
A Navy spokesman said that while sailors and marines who use government-issued phones are usually allowed to use popular commercial apps, including social media apps, certain apps that present a security risk are banned, although the spokesman did not provide examples of apps that are allowed or those considered unsafe.
TikTok did not comment on the order at the time of publication.
The US Navy order is the latest in the row of censures on the hugely-popular app. Last month, the US Army instructed its service members not to use TikTok on military-issued devices, following US Senator Chuck Schumer’s questions about the security of the US Army in using TikTok in their recruiting.
In November, the US Congress, led by Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, demanded a national security review of TikTok, and its parent company ByteDance, according to TechCrunch.
ByteDance now finds itself in the company of a number of other Chinese-owned tech firms that US lawmakers and many in the tech community claim share data with the Chinese government. These private information leak concerns have led the US government to demand the reversal by a Beijing-based company of the purchase of gay hookup app Grindr.
The US government crackdown on Chinese tech companies comes at the same time as US tech and entertainment businesses – including Google, Blizzard and, reportedly, Shutterstock, ramp up efforts to appeal to Chinese government demands in the hopes of getting a toehold in the massive Chinese market.