China hits out at U.S. over TikTok ban on federal devices

China has accused the U.S. of overreacting after federal employees were ordered to remove the video app TikTok from government-issued phones, the BBC reports.

On Monday, the White House gave government agencies 30 days to ensure that employees did not have the Chinese-owned app on federal devices.

It comes as the app has begun to expand time limits in order to help younger people limit their time on the app to one hour of daily activity. 

Today’s announcement notably landed as a House committee voted to advance legislation that would make it easier to ban TikTok from the U.S. as bipartisan concerns grow over the app’s potential ties to Chinese government intelligence-gathering.

TikTok, one of the top downloaded apps in the world, will prompt teens under 18 years of age to enter a passcode in order to continue watching beyond 60 minutes — “requiring them to make an active decision to extend that time,” TikTok head of trust and safety Cormac Keenan said. 

For teens under 13 to watch for an additional 30 minutes, a parent or guardian will need to set or put in an existing passcode.

Other new features announced today include giving parents more control over their children’s account activity and access to more data about the time their children spend on the app.

TikTok has been a big concern at the government level. 

Western officials have become increasingly concerned about the popular video-sharing app, which is owned by Chinese firm ByteDance, in recent months.

A spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry accused the U.S. of abusing state power to suppress foreign firms.

TikTok has faced allegations that it harvests users’ data and hands it to the Chinese government, with some intelligence agencies worried that sensitive information could be exposed when the app is downloaded to government devices.

The Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young told agencies this week they had to scrub the app from all state-issued phones to protect confidential data.

The agency said the guidance marked a “critical step forward in addressing the risks presented by the app to sensitive government data.”

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