TikTok Ban Countries: Reasons Behind the App’s Prohibition and Restore Access
With over 1 billion active monthly users, TikTok remains one of the most popular social media platforms to date. The hype around it shows no signs of slowing down – as well as its controversy. The latter caused numerous TikTok bans around the world. Right now, users’ access to this app is completely or partially limited in almost twenty countries, including India, China, selected Western European countries, and even some American states, such as Montana. So, why is TikTok forbidden in so many regions? And most importantly, can you gain access to this app – for instance, when traveling to one of TikTok ban countries? Keep reading this article to find out.
Main reasons behind TikTok access limitations
Before exploring the countries that banned TikTok fully or partially, let’s learn more about the controversy around this app and the background of those restrictions. Here are the most significant reasons why users’ access to TikTok has been limited.
The US, Canada, Australia, and many European countries started to suspect that TikTok may pose a threat to their national security due to its potential connections with the Chinese government. The thing is that TikTok partially belongs to ByteDance – the company operating in Beijing, China. And, since the Chinese authorities have a tight grip over local technologies, including different types of software, some (including a famous hacker group Anonymous) suggest that TikTok is a spyware app.
Although there’s no clear evidence that TikTok transmits data to Chinese authorities, the political tension between the Western democracies and China is one of the key reasons for the TikTok ban in the US (more on that a bit later).
Children safety issue
While social media platforms like Twitter (now X) and Facebook (now Meta) are mostly popular among older generations, TikTok focuses on younger audiences. In fact, 37.5% of TikTok users are under 19. Here is the distribution of TikTok users by their age and gender, as of April 2023:
But that’s not only the main cause of TikTok’s success, but also one of the greatest concerns associated with the app. Just like any other social media application actively used by kids and teenagers (such as Snapchat, Likee, and Omegle), TikTok doesn’t provide sufficient security protocols and moderation. This causes potential risks to minors, including data theft and the exposure of inappropriate content. In particular, in 2023, TikTok was fined 12.7 million dollars for illegally processing children’s data. And that’s another motive for governments to ban TikTok.
Social media and messaging apps are commonly targeted by online censorship in countries with a low level of Internet freedom. That’s because such applications help people communicate independently, get unbiased news, join communities, and more. Therefore, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, WhatsApp, YouTube, and many other apps are banned in countries with totalitarian and authoritarian governments.
The same applies to TikTok. Online censorship is the main reason why users’ access to this app is limited in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Russia. Ironically, TikTok also doesn’t work in China. But there’s the app’s twin also owned by ByteDance – Douyin – designed specifically for the Chinese market.
Data privacy concerns
Perhaps, the most significant factors that made many countries ban TikTok are privacy and security concerns. Indeed, TikTok is far from safe. Here are several main risks associated with this application:
- Off-app data monitoring. Like many other social media apps, including Meta, TikTok gains default access to your browsing history and other data. Several security experts reports proved that the application monitors all Internet activities of its users.
- Extensive app permissions. Apart from access to your off-app browsing habits, TikTok gains many other permissions once you install it on your device. Those include tracking of your location, camera, microphone, and more.
- Potential breaches. TikTok has suffered from several massive security breaches resulting in customer data leaks. For instance, in May 2023. attackers managed to gain unauthorized access to sensitive information of both mobile and desktop users.
- Large volumes of collected data. As mentioned, any social media app collects some amount of customer data. TikTok is no exception here – and many are disturbed because the amounts of that data are quite extensive.
Want to learn more about TikTok-related privacy concerns? Check out our recent blog post on this topic.
Now, how much of your information does TikTok collect, exactly – and is it a good reason to ban the app? Let’s clear things up.
What data does TikTok collect?
- User-provided data: contact details, generated content, information about purchases, age and identity data, and messages regarding the goods you buy.
- Automatically collected data: information about in-app interactions, biometric and location data, technical details (IP address, device information, and so on), cookies, and shared media (images, audio files).
- Third-party data: information from shared accounts on other platforms (Facebook, Google), interactions with advertising materials, information about you shared on other accounts, data open to the public, and information from sellers and merchants.
All in all, TikTok is definitely not the best app for your privacy. On the other hand, it’s also not worse than the apps provided by other tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Twitter. All of them collect lots of customer information, leading to particular concerns regarding users’ safety and privacy online. But strict measures against TikTok don’t seem fair, given that other social media and messaging apps remain legit.
💡 Pro tip: If you want to protect your digital identity and personal information while using TikTok and other social media apps, try VeePN. It’s a top-rated virtual private network (VPN) service that will take your Internet privacy to the next level. VeePN hides your IP address and encrypts your traffic, making it nearly impossible for third parties to snoop on you. Besides, you can benefit from some extra security features, like Kill Switch and NetGuard.
What countries have banned TikTok?
Now, let’s take a closer look at the complete TikTok ban country list and reveal the reasons for those limitations.
TikTok completely banned
First, let’s take a look at the countries with the TikTok app banned for all citizens.
🇦🇫 Afghanistan. The Taliban restricted access to TikTok in Afghanistan in April 2022, along with a large number of other apps and websites. The country’s authorities claimed the ban aimed to “protect younger generations from misleading content.”
🇧🇩 Bangladesh. TikTok is censored in Bangladesh, as well as many similar online platforms, because of spreading “inappropriate videos.”
🇮🇳 India. The Indian government limited users’ access to TikTok and some other Chinese applications in 2020, considering it a national security threat. Previously, there were over 200 million TikTok users in India.
🇮🇩 Indonesia. Banned in 2018, TikTok is one of dozens of applications and online resources censored in Indonesia.
🇵🇰 Pakistan. This is another example of a country with a high level of Internet censorship. Pakistani authorities have limited access to TikTok four times since the first ban in October 2020.
🇷🇺 Russia. The Russian government banned TikTok, as well as Instagram, Facebook, Google News, and many other apps, due to the “spread of misinformation.”
TikTok partially banned
The following countries partially limited access to TikTok. Note that the ban mostly applies to government workers rather than common citizens.
🇦🇺 Australia. TikTok is currently unavailable on government devices in Australia. The decision was made in April 2023 due to security precautions.
🇧🇪 Belgium. In March this year, Belgium limited the use of TikTok on government phones because of security and misinformation risks. The ban had been active for three months.
🇨🇦 Canada. Canadian authorities banned the use of TikTok on government devices in February 2023 because of the “unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security it presents.”
🇩🇰 Denmark. The country’s Defense Ministry limited access to TikTok for government workers due to security risks in March 2023. The following month, all Danish universities also banned the use of this application.
🇪🇺 European Union. The workers of the European Parliament, European Commission, and European Union Council can’t use TikTok on their devices since March 2023.
🇫🇷 France. TikTok, along with several other social media applications, was banned for French public sector workers in March this year.
🇱🇻 Latvia. The employees of the Latvian Foreign Ministry aren’t allowed to have TikTok on their devices because of security concerns. The resolution was introduced in early 2023.
🇳🇱 The Netherlands. Like in many other European countries, the Netherlands limited the use of TikTok in 2023. But in this case, it’s rather a recommendation than a complete ban.
🇳🇿 New Zealand. The workers of New Zealand’s Parliament won’t be allowed to use TikTok on their phones as well, according to the official document released in March 2023.
🇳🇴 Norway. Privacy and security concerns were the main reason to limit access to TikTok for Norwegian Parliament employees in early 2023.
🇹🇼 Taiwan. All popular Chinese applications, including TikTok, are banned on the officials’ devices in Taiwan for national security reasons. Moreover, the local government keeps studying the potential risks associated with this app.
🇬🇧 The UK. Along with many other Western democracies, the United Kingdom banned the use of TikTok on public workers’ devices in March this year.
🇺🇸 The US. Compared to other countries on this list, the situation with the US banning TikTok is a bit more complicated. In December 2022, the use of TikTok was prohibited on government devices. Then, in early March 2023, American senators introduced the US RESTRICT Act – a document that allows the US authorities to ban technologies connected to a “foreign adversary” (China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia, and Venezuela). And, despite the effort of TikTok’s CEO Shou Zi and the outraged reaction of many users, American senators are going to move on with the bill. In May 2023, Montana became the first state to officially ban TikTok for all users.
For more information, check out our recent article about the TikTok ban in the US.
All in all, despite the controversy around TikTok, the reaction of authorities seems somewhat exaggerated. After all, security experts don’t find the app more dangerous to users’ privacy than other popular social media platforms.
So, how to avoid the block and keep using TikTok – for instance, when traveling to a country where it’s partly or completely unavailable? Your best bet here is a reliable virtual private network (VPN) service.
How to overcome TikTok limitations
A VPN is a powerful online privacy tool that protects your online traffic and enhances cybersecurity. Besides, it increases the level of Internet freedom, allowing you to access websites, apps, and services that are unavailable or censored in particular locations.
To be more specific, a VPN provides you with an anonymous IP address. This way, it alters your virtual location to the desired one while encrypting your Internet activities and hiding them from prying eyes. As a result, snoopers, hackers, Internet providers, and even government authorities (such as police) can’t learn what you’re up to online.
That said, if you need to access your TikTok account while traveling to a country where this app is banned, make sure to install a VPN app on your device. It will help you get around local limitations and overcome Internet censorship.
Note that VPNs are perfectly legal in most parts of the world, including the US, Canada, Australia, the UK, European Union countries, and more. But remember to check whether there are any restrictions in your particular country before doing anything potentially questionable. Please be informed that if some action is illegal without using a VPN, it will also be illegal with its use.
Now, let’s figure out how to use a VPN for TikTok to access and safely use the app wherever you are.
How to change TikTok location with a VPN
- Select a reliable VPN service provider. Not all VPNs are trustworthy – for instance, “free” services tend to collect customer data and sell it to third parties. So it’s important to choose a reputable VPN like VeePN. Our service sticks to a transparent No Logs policy and offers essential cybersecurity features.
- Create a VeePN account. Sing up for VeePN and select the most suitable pricing plan for your needs.
- Download and install the app. VeePN is a multi-platform solution compatible with multiple devices and operating systems. You can choose to download a VPN for Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, Linux, and more.
- Open the app and connect to a server. Select your new virtual location in a country where there are no limitations regarding TikTok usage. At this point, you get an alternative IP address instead of your actual one. VeePN provides access to servers in 89 locations across 60 countries worldwide, which means that you will get a safe and stable connection without compromising your privacy and Internet speed.
- Turn VeePN on. Tab the On button in the center of your screen and enjoy your favorite TikTok content while staying completely secure.
Try VeePN now with a 30-day money-back guarantee – access the desired apps, enhance your browsing freedom, and stay safe online at all times!
FAQ: TikTok Ban Countries
TikTok is completely banned in some countries due to online censorship, as well as security and privacy concerns – these include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Russia. The only state in the US that officially banned TikTok is Montana (at least, for now). Also, the use of TikTok on public sector workers’ devices is limited in other American states, Canada, Australia, and most European countries. For more details, read this article.
Some of the first countries to ban TikTok were Bangladesh (2018), Indonesia (temporary ban in 2018), and India (2019). As for the Western democracies, the US and the Netherlands suggested banning the app in late 2022, followed by many other countries in early 2023. Read this article to learn more.
The main reasons behind banning TikTok are the following:
- Potential connections between TikTok and the Chinese government
- Internet censorship
- Children safety issues
- Privacy and security concerns
Check out this article to learn more.
When traveling to a country where TikTok is partly or completely banned, consider using a reliable VPN like VeePN. It will mask your actual IP address and change your virtual location while encrypting your Internet traffic. This way, you can hide your real whereabouts and access the app. But note that VeePN is a VPN service not intended for conducting any illegal acts. if the use of TikTok is forbidden in your country, accessing it with a VPN will remain illegal.
TikTok is available in most parts of the world. The app works in over 160 countries. At the same time, many regions have partly or completely banned the application. For example, TikTok can’t be installed on government workers’ phones in the US, Canada, Australia, and many European countries. Read this article to learn more.
The use of TikTok is partly limited in the US due to the US RESTRICT Act issued in March 2023. Montana became the first state to officially ban the app in May 2023. But this law will come into effect only in January 2024. As for other American states, TikTok is only banned on government officials’ devices, remaining available to common citizens. Check out this article for more details.