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U.S. Navy bans TikTok, Pentagon fears DNA home kits jeopardize national security

tiktok app biometric data collection

Privacy and national security concerns have led the U.S. Navy to ban the use of social media app TikTok on government-issued mobile devices, writes Engadget.

U.S. Army cadets have also been banned from using the service.

Calling ByteDance’s software a “cybersecurity threat,” the Navy did not reveal too much information on what led to the ban. However, the company’s Chinese ownership may play a strong part in the ban for fear it may be used by the Chinese government to collect biographic and biometric data from government employees or for recruitment.

There is currently no evidence to support claims that TikTok is stealing personal information.

ByteDance has not released a statement about the ban. In the past, the company denied involvement in government-related schemes and said it was keeping U.S. operations separate.

In another memo, the Pentagon is concerned DNA home kits such as 23andMe and Ancestry could turn into a national security risk for the U.S. if taken by government personnel. Warning they are not regulated and possibly inaccurate, the Pentagon fears the information could be used to track and monitor service members, and even compromise their careers.

“These DTC [direct-to-consumer] genetic tests are largely unregulated and could expose personal and genetic information, and potentially create unintended security consequences and increased risk to the joint force and mission,” reads the memo.

“Moreover, there is increased concern in the scientific community that outside parties are exploiting the use of genetic data for questionable purposes, including mass surveillance and the ability to track individuals without their authorization or awareness,” it further states.

The Department of Defense has not released any comments.

Ancestry and 23andMe claim not to share DNA data with third-parties, except for law enforcement if a court order or warrant is presented. Family Tree DNA changed its terms of service last December to allow law enforcement to search for violent crime suspects.

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