Following the news that US federal employees has been instructed to remove the video app TikTok from government-issued phones, China has accused them of overreacting.
The White House told government agencies 30 days starting on Monday to make sure that employees’ federal devices did not include the Chinese-owned app.
The directive comes after previous actions taken in a similar manner by the EU and Canada.
China’s foreign ministry issued an accusation against the US of using state authority improperly to repress foreign businesses.
During a press briefing on Tuesday, spokesperson Mao Ning stated, “We firmly oppose those wrong actions. The US government should respect the principles of market economy and fair competition, stop suppressing the companies and provide an open, fair and non-discriminatory environment for foreign companies in the US.”
“How unsure of itself can the world’s top superpower like the US be to fear young people’s favourite app like that,” she said.
The popular video-sharing software, which is controlled by the Chinese company ByteDance, has recently raised concerns among Western authorities.
Several intelligence agencies are concerned that when the app is downloaded to government devices, critical data might be exposed due to claims that TikTok captures user data and passes it on to the Chinese government.
TikTok asserts that it doesn’t act any differently from other social media firms and that it would never submit to a request to divulge user data.
In order to preserve sensitive data, US Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Shalanda Young instructed agencies on Monday to remove the app from all state-issued phones.
The organisation said that the advice was a “critical step forward in addressing the risks presented by the app to sensitive government data”.
TikTok has already been blocked from several federal agencies’ devices, including the White House, the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and State.
Officials made the decision, according to US Federal Chief Information Security Officer Chris DeRusha, based on President Joe Biden’s administration’s ”ongoing commitment to securing our digital infrastructure and protecting the American people’s security and privacy”.
The decision on Tuesday comes after US House of Representatives legislation was approved in December that forbade the use of TikTok on government-issued phones and granted the White House 60 days to provide agency orders.
Moreover, additional legislation that would give President Biden the authority to impose a national app ban is anticipated to be passed by congressional Republicans in the coming weeks.
Beginning on Tuesday, Canada will also impose a new restriction on the app for any smartphones used by the government. The software offered “an unacceptable degree of danger to privacy and security,” the chief information officer of the nation said after reviewing it.
The change was necessary, according to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, because of the level of security concerns around the app.
During a news conference on Monday near Toronto, he stated, “This may the first step, this may be the only step we need to take”.
Employees were instructed to uninstall the TikTok app from their phones and work-issued devices last week by the European Commission and the European Council.
According to a commission employee, “The measure aims to protect the commission against cyber-security threats and actions which may be exploited for cyber-attacks against the corporate environment of the commission”.