TikTok is usually at the top of the charts when it comes to the most downloaded free apps on the internet. The video-focused social app is third in both stores, behind a shopping app and a to-do app. CapCut is an app for making TikTok videos and it is also developed by Byte Dance.

There is no doubt that TikTok has retained its dominant position as the year begins. It is the place where pop stars are made, and young people spend a lot of time there.

US government officials were more skeptical of the app and its Chinese parent company than American teenagers were. TikTok is forbidden from being installed on devices owned by the federal government because of a movement that began with Republican state governors.

Most of the bans on access to TikTok were passed during a two week period last month, according to the report. Other parts of the public sector have introduced restrictions of their own.

Jamf Holding Corp., which sells software to organizations to enable filtering and security measures on iPhones and other Apple devices, said its government customers have increasingly blocked access to TikTok since the middle of this year.

About 65% of attempted connections to TikTok have been blocked this month on devices managed by Jamf’s public sector customers worldwide, including school districts and various other agencies, up from 10% of connections being blocked in June, the company said.

In some cases, these are mostly symbolic protests, as few state agencies were maintaining significant presences on TikTok, and hackers would have easier and more useful ways to surveil government targets than by accessing their TikTok data

distrust of ByteDance is a tech issue that both Republicans and Democrats agree on. The provision banning TikTok from devices under federal management was included in the spending bill that President Biden signed on Thursday.

Since Trump left office, the question of whether or not TikTok could be banned in the US has been largely answered.

Biden is a big fan of Chinese technology.

Trump tried to give ByteDance of TikTok to Larry Ellison, but failed. Biden has taken a less thuggish approach to his China dealings, but he has worked to prevent China from developing advanced chips, plans to limit US investments in Chinese tech, and restricts the ability of Chinese apps to collect. Who that last one is aimed at?

Since Biden took office, TikTok has been working to reach a deal with the Council on Foreign Investment in the United States that would allow ByteDance to continue to own the company while putting TikTok's user data, recommendation algorithm, and corporate governance into a kind of quarantine

Just before Christmas, the company gave more information about its plans. David Shephardson andEcho Wang are here.

To overcome these hurdles, TikTok has sought to provide new layers of oversight to the U.S. government. It has expanded Oracle’s role to ensuring that TikTok’s technology infrastructure is separate from ByteDance, the sources said.

Oracle will review both app codes, which determine the look and feel of TikTok, and server codes, which provide functions such as search and recommendations, according to the sources. The reviews will occur at dedicated “transparency centers” visited by Oracle engineers, with the first one scheduled to open in Maryland in January, one of the sources added.

TikTok has also proposed to form a “proxy” board that would run the [US Data Security] division independent of ByteDance, the sources said. This division is headed on an interim basis by Andrew Bonillo, a former U.S Secret Service agent, and until a security deal with the U.S. is reached it reports to TikTok Chief Executive Shou Zi Chew.

A basic template for the deal was in place by August according to a TikTok spokeswoman. Different government departments and agencies disagree about how to move forward has slowed the decision making of the Biden administration.

The story of TikTok is familiar to anyone who has followed US tech regulation. Lawmakers hold hearings and draft rules but end up infighting. Regulation in Europe or competition from rivals are the only changes we see.

ByteDance can make a big mistake.

TikTok's position appears to be much more serious than what has been reported for other sites. It wasn't banned from federal government devices for all of the criticism it received. Biden's China posture to date suggests that he may be willing to do it anyway, even if it causes a furor.

ByteDance can't afford a high-profile mistake. In the days after more states banned TikTok, an internal investigation found that employees of ByteDance used the service to record journalists. Emily Baker-White, who has broken a number of important stories about connections between TikTok and ByteDance over the past year, was one of the sources that ByteDance tried to find.

According to materials reviewed by Forbes, ByteDance tracked multiple Forbes journalists as part of this covert surveillance campaign, which was designed to unearth the source of leaks inside the company following a drumbeat of stories exposing the company’s ongoing links to China. As a result of the investigation into the surveillance tactics, ByteDance fired Chris Lepitak, its chief internal auditor who led the team responsible for them. The China-based executive Song Ye, who Lepitak reported to and who reports directly to ByteDance CEO Rubo Liang, resigned.

“I was deeply disappointed when I was notified of the situation… and I’m sure you feel the same,” Liang wrote in an internal email shared with Forbes. “The public trust that we have spent huge efforts building is going to be significantly undermined by the misconduct of a few individuals. … I believe this situation will serve as a lesson to us all.”

In October, ByteDance said that "TikTok has never been used to 'target' any members of the U.S. government, activists, public figures or journalists." Analyzing TikTok reporters physical locations in an effort to out their sources certainly qualifies under my definition of targeting.

It is difficult to overstate the degree to which the TikTok spying scandal has undermined the goodwill the company spent the past few years cultivating. Executives have been against the idea of their app being used to surveil Americans for a long time. It was used for what it was intended to be. It was used against Americans who were trying to understand the relationship between Byte Dance and TikTok.

The company told me that the misuse of their authority was an egregious one. The behavior is not in line with our efforts to earn the trust of our users. Since the incident, our access protocols have been significantly improved and hardened, and we will continue to do so.

I hope that is correct. As the movement to ban TikTok grows, the company can no longer argue their innocence. The rare conspiracy theory that turned out to be true for a few reporters was "TikTok is spies on you." President Biden needs to finish what Trump started if he wants to keep his job.