US TikTok ban: Which other countries have banned the app?

A demonstrator outside the U.S. Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 12, 2024. REUTERS/Craig Hudson

A demonstrator outside the U.S. Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 12, 2024. REUTERS/Craig Hudson

What’s the context?

The United States could ban TikTok within a year, but it is not the first country to do so

NAIROBI - U.S. President Joe Biden signed legislation this week that could ban TikTok in the United States unless the Chinese owner sells the popular short video app within a year.

The law, approved on Wednesday, is driven by widespread worries among U.S. lawmakers that China could use the app to surveil or access the data of TikTok's 170 million American users.

The legislation grants ByteDance, TikTok's Beijing-headquartered parent, a period of 270 days to divest its U.S. operations, with a provision for a 90-day extension if a sale nears completion close to the deadline.

ByteDance said it had no plans to sell TikTok and would fight the law in the courts, calling the ban a breach of the U.S. constitution's first amendment, which protects free speech.

Which countries have banned TikTok, and why?


The Taliban government banned TikTok in April 2022, saying it was misleading the younger generation.


India banned TikTok in June 2020 along with other Chinese apps after a border clash between India and China. Authorities cited concerns about data security and privacy, adding that the apps were prejudicial to India's sovereignty and integrity.


Nepal banned TikTok for all its citizens in November 2023, saying the app was disturbing "social harmony and good will".

A woman who used to post over a dozen videos on video-sharing app TikTok, and her daughter are seen in a mobile phone's screen as they make a video that they said will upload on an Indian app, after India banned dozens of Chinese apps including TikTok following a border clash between the two nations, inside their house in Mumbai, India, July 1, 2020. REUTERS/Hemanshi Kamani
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TikTok Chief Executive Shou Zi Chew testifies before a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing entitled 'TikTok: How Congress can Safeguard American Data Privacy and Protect Children from Online Harms,' as lawmakers scrutinize the Chinese-owned video-sharing app, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 23, 2023. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein
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A man holding a phone walks past a sign of Chinese company ByteDance's app TikTok, known locally as Douyin, at the International Artificial Products Expo in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China October 18, 2019
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Senegal banned the app in August 2023 after an opposition candidate was arrested and accused of using the platform to spread "hateful and subversive messages" threatening the country's stability.

The government wants TikTok to put in place a mechanism that allows authorities to remove specific accounts. 


The Somali government banned TikTok, Telegram, and the online betting website 1XBet in August 2023, to limit the spread of what it called indecent content and propaganda. Officials said "terrorists and immoral groups" were using the apps to "spread constant horrific images and misinformation." 


Jordan banned TikTok in December 2022 after a police officer was killed in clashes with protesters that broke out over high fuel prices. Authorities said they were temporarily banning the app as it had failed to deal with posts inciting violence and disorder, but the ban remains in place.


Kyrgyzstan banned TikTok in August 2023, saying that it was harmful to the mental health of children.


Uzbekistan banned TikTok in July 2021, after authorities said the app did not comply with personal data protection laws.    

Other countries have enforced partial bans, prohibiting access to the app on the work devices of lawmakers, civil servants or other employees, citing data privacy and national security concerns.

These include Britain, the United States, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Malta, the Netherlands, Latvia, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway and Taiwan. European Union institutions have also banned employees from using it.     

What impact have TikTok bans had on users?

Content creators who had built their livelihoods on the platform found themselves without an audience virtually overnight. They were forced to pivot and seek out new platforms to maintain their followings and revenue streams. 

Meanwhile, users were abruptly cut off from a popular source of entertainment and community connection. 

This void, however, has spurred the growth in alternative platforms such as Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts. 

Local apps in countries such as India - which had 200 million TikTok users - have also spouted, but have struggled to replicate TikTok's success.

Many users have also turned to installing Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) through which they can still access the app.

Are other countries likely to follow suit?

Countries which have imposed partial bans such as Britain, EU countries and Australia, may move towards full bans if ByteDance fails to sell and the United States imposes a ban.

Some governments are reluctant to impose bans, but are seeking alternative approaches to address security, privacy and content moderation worries.

Kenya, for example, is seeking to impose stricter regulation of the platform, rather than banning it.  

A panel in parliament is considering a petition from a Kenyan citizen to ban TikTok, following accusations from the interior ministry that the platform has been used to spread propaganda, carry out fraud and distribute sexual content.

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