Staff working for Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate for the US presidency, have been told to remove the Chinese social media app TikTok from their devices.
The instruction came from Biden's general counsel, Dana Remus, in an email to staff seen by Bloomberg.
Perhaps mindful of the damage done to Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign when its email server was compromised by Russian hackers, Remus also told employees to avoid other actions that might make them vulnerable, including trading stocks. Staff wishing to make individual trades should first seek approval from Remus, the email says.
The Biden campaign told Bloomberg the new policy was an effort to demonstrate "the highest ethical standards", and that the measures will remain in place until after the Electoral College votes on December 14th.
Several high ranking US politicians have been accused of profiteering by trading stocks and shares just as the pandemic hit.
The Biden campaign is not alone in banning TikTok. The US departments of State and Homeland Security have also told staff not to use the app, and it is forbidden by the US army and navy too.
On July 8th, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the government was "certainly looking at" banning TikTok amid concerns over app's handling of users' data and its maker's alleged connections to the Chinese state.
TikTok was among 59 Chinese mobile apps banned by India in June, accused of being engaged in "activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order".
Other counties to have restricted the use of Chinese apps over privacy and security concerns include Australia, which in 2018, banned the use of WeChat by its troops. In the UK, a number of Conservative MPs have warned that TikTok is a security risk due to its maker ByteDance being headquartered in Beijing.
The Chinese social media app allows users to share 15-second videos with quick edits, filters and music. It has been downloaded more than two billion times globally, and is said to have nearly 65-75 million active monthly users in the US.
ByteDance denies it shares user data with the Chinese government. Head of public policy for Europe, Theo Bertram, has insisted that such claims are "completely false" and that TikTok is being used as a "political football".
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