Where is TikTok Banned? 12 countries where TikTok is banned – and how to unblock it
What countries ban TikTok?
The countries that impose the severest restrictions on TikTok are Afghanistan, India, Somalia, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, and Azerbaijan where the app is completely banned. There are around nine other countries that have imposed varying degrees of sanctions on TikTok. These are:
Australia – has banned the app from all devices used by federal government employees, whether those devices are owned by those employees or provided by the state. Disciplinary procedures can be taken against any government workers transgressing this rule.
Belgium– similarly, TikTok is forbidden to be installed on the work phones of any Belgian government officials. The Belgian prime minister stated that the relationship between TikTok’s owners and the Chinese security services was unclear and that data security could not be assured for users. Canada also took this stance in February 2023, citing very similar reasons.
Denmark‘s Defense Ministry likewise banned employees from using TikTok on their work devices in March 2023, but no such imposition was placed on personally owned technology.
Dutch government officials are subject to advice from their managers not to use the app. This stance is also mirrored by the EU parliament, where anyone working within that institution is similarly prevented from installing TikTok onto work phones and tablets.
In March 2023, France also banned all ‘recreational applications’ from government owned devices, not only including TikTok but also other apps like Instagram, Twitter, and many online games. The
The French government took the view that their devices are for work, not play; so it wasn’t so much a privacy concern perhaps, as to eliminate employee distraction during office hours.
New Zealand has made a similar edict to the EU parliament, whereby only government employees are prohibited from accessing the platform.
Norway followed suit with this strategy, although certain employees are allowed to use TikTok on their own and designated government machines for marketing purposes and/or personal use; but the activity on these machines is closely monitored.
Taiwan’s government has disallowed any government computer, laptop or phone user from installing Chinese manufactured software of any kind, which includes TikTok.
The United Kingdom government has banned TikTok from all work phones and devices, citing their approval of the similar decision by the EU parliament. However, the situation in the United States is more complex. In March 2023, the U.S. government told ByteDance that it must sell a US version of TikTok to a US market player for exclusive use in the USA, or the app would be banned entirely. All federal employees have been requested to remove the app from work phones, and the White House will not allow TikTok on any devices in the building. Back in May 2023, the Montana House of Representatives banned TikTok state-wide, which will render the app illegal if the bill is ratified by the state governor.
Other US states imposing restrictions on access to TikTok by government employees are Maryland, Texas, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah, and Alabama. Some of these states are also considering outright bans for all citizens or at least even tougher sanctions than those imposed currently.
What is TikTok, exactly?
TikTok is probably one of the most popular video-sharing apps in the world. It allows users to create and share short-form videos via mobile devices. Although the majority of videos are created on smartphones, the TikTok web app can be used on a laptop or desktop machine.
One of the most fun aspects of TikTok is that people can add voiceovers, background music filters, stickers, and sound effects to the videos they share.
The app has apparently been installed well over 3 billion times across the world, but it wasn’t always called TikTok. The platform started off being called Musical.ly. – a video creation and sharing app that specializes in lip-syncing content. Since then, the app has grown with all the other facilities mentioned above and its social media sharing aspects.
Because of its viral popularity, not only children and teenagers have installed it on their devices. Many parents use it to show off their kids’ dancing videos to their own friends – and adult TikTok videos of spoof news programs and genuine footage of important sporting events and the like are very popular.
But TikTok’s popularity has become its undoing due to security concerns. As a result, many governments around the world have expressed their disapproval of the platform. In fact, to date around 12 countries have banned TikTok to one extent or another.
Some countries’ governments have forbidden any governmental employees from installing TikTok onto any work-provided devices. Other administrations have gone further and ordered public employees not to access the platform at all, whereas some countries have simply blocked access to TikTok servers entirely from their national internet network.
How can I get around a TikTok ban with a VPN?
In order to use a VPN to circumvent this restriction if you are traveling in any of these countries, it’s only necessary to choose a VPN-provided server with an IP address located in a different country from any of the above. Here’s how:
On a mobile device, for example, an Android smartphone, you only need to download the VPN app for Android or iPhone and activate it. The app will run either as a standalone piece of software or as a browser extension onto whichever browser you choose.
After activating the VPN, it should default to a local server wherever you happen to be in the world. But to bypass geo-restrictions, you only need to use the ‘server list of countries’ menu and choose a country where TikTok isn’t banned. For example, if you are in India, you could choose to use a server based in Europe, such as Poland. In effect, you are then accessing the internet not from India, but from Poland. Any IP (internet protocol) address restrictions that the Indian telecoms infrastructure providers have put in place are simply avoided. It’s like driving a car along a highway, seeing a roadblock ahead, and taking an alternative route – but you still end up at the same destination.
Why is TikTok banned by some countries?
Unsurprisingly, it’s all about international politics. The problem is that TikTok’s publishers and owners, a Chinese company called ByteDance, harvest huge amounts of data from the app. They say that this is perfectly normal practice for social media platforms. However, a study conducted by cybersecurity company Internet 2.0 in early 2023 stated that the video sharing app uses twice the number of trackers within its source code than many other social media apps.
The study went on to add that TikTok regularly requests for the user to give it access to their personal contact list on their device. If the user denies access, the app often continues to pester users to comply.
Internet 2.0’s analysis showed that the source code of 21 popular messaging and social media apps were included in the study – such as Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook, Snapchat and others. Leveraging the technology of software called Malcore, the company carrying out the study was able to give each app a score based on the amount of personal data they collected.
TikTok collects twice as much personal data as its rivals.
After mathematical analysis, the average score for the apps tested was 34. However, TikTok easily danced to the top of the league with a score of over 63. Meanwhile, in terms of how many trackers each app used, the average sat at around 4.7, whereas TikTok used no fewer than nine.
In short, TikTok collects twice as much data and has twice the tracking capability as its competitors.
In itself, that’s not such a bad thing, however China doesn’t adhere to the same privacy laws as many governments do across the world. Across Europe, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) imposes very strict limits on what data can be collected about technology users. Likewise, in the USA, the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) offers consumers with similar safeguards. But the Chinese authorities don’t follow these guidelines, and so Byte Dance’s data collection is worrying for many governments, as who knows what will happen to the data that’s collected.
Furthermore, China is known for the state having strong controls over its industries and corporations; if the Chinese government decided to simply harvest that same data, it could do so with impunity. As a result, many governments are concerned that all the data collected could be used against its citizens in any future potential cyber conflict – especially if the people involved worked for local government or infrastructure such as health services or utilities companies.
Use a VPN within legal restrictions
In summary, if you’re a tourist on vacation wanting to access TikTok where it’s banned, you can use a VPN to circumvent the restriction, but penalties might include heavy fines or even deportation, which hardly seems worthwhile taking the risk. If you’re an employee barred from using TikTok wherever you live or work, again a VPN can help unlock restrictions, but you might want to consider whether losing your job or disciplinary action is worthwhile for watching your kids jump around to a lively tune!
As with any other app or software, it’s worth considering whether its utility is a fair exchange for the data you might give away about yourself. Where TikTok is concerned, that’s a fairly serious question.
Protect Your Privacy
with Urban VPN
Download Urban VPN to enjoy complete online security and privacy while hiding IP address.Free Download