Why are some politicians in the US concerned about TikTok?

Video and words by George Hancorn, ITV News' Here's The Story

India's banned it, so could TikTok soon face a permanent ban across some of the world's most powerful nations?

Reports have resurfaced that politicians in the US are drawing up legislation that could see the platform restricted, or even banned completely.

There has been speculation that President Joe Biden's administration may review plans by former President Donald Trump to ban TikTok over security fears, and if the US falls into line with India - could the UK and others follow suit?

In 2020, Donald Trump attempted to ban the platform. Credit: AP

What are politicians most concerned about?

TikTok is owned by Chinese technology company ByteDance, with some security experts concerned about the relationship it has with the Chinese government, led by President Xi Jinping.

TikTok told MPs in July "we have never been asked to provide TikTok user data to the Chinese government, nor would we if asked".

There are also concerns about the amount of data TikTok has access to.

In September 2021, TikTok said the platform had now surpassed one billion users worldwide - with more than 10 million active users in the UK alone.

It's that huge amount of data that's caused some concerns.

Online hacking forums recently claimed two billion database records had been accessed.

Credit: AP

It follows Microsoft claiming they had spotted a vulnerability in TikTok’s android app - with worries hackers may be able to access a user's account with a single click.

TikTok denied both breaches – and some cybersecurity experts also back this up. 

Will TikTok be banned in the UK?

UK Parliament’s TikTok account was closed after just two days, after MPs raised concerns about the social media firm’s Chinese links.

A UK Parliament spokesman said: “Based on Member feedback, we are closing the pilot UK Parliament TikTok account earlier than we had planned.

“The account was a pilot initiative while we tested the platform as a way of reaching younger audiences with relevant content about Parliament.”

Some, including former Conservative Party leader Sir Ian Duncan Smith, were concerned about the risk of data being handed to the Chinese government. 

Credit: AP

What has TikTok said?

Data breaches flagged by hacking platforms and concerns flagged by Microsoft were denied by TikTok, with a statement explaining there was "no evidence" to support the claims.

Meanwhile, on the UK Parliament decision to close their account, a TikTok spokesperson said: “While it is disappointing that Parliament will no longer be able to connect with the millions of people who use TikTok in the UK, we reiterate the offer to reassure those Members of Parliament who raised concerns and clarify any inaccuracies about our platform.”

What happens next?

Prime Minister Liz Truss clarified earlier this month that the proposed legislation under the Online Safety Bill - to protect people online - will return to the Commons soon.

The Bill will also require pornography websites to use age verification technology to stop children from accessing the material on their sites, and there will be a duty for the largest social media platforms and search engines to prevent fraudulent advertising.

It's unclear whether new amends would include anything relating to TikTok.