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Amazon Announces, then Retracts Requirement That Employees Remove TikTok from Phones Over

An Amazon delivery van.

Seattle, USA - Feb 10, 2020: Amazon Prime Now Delivery van on 4th avenue late in the day with the Space Needle in the background.

Amazon asked its employees on Friday to delete video-sharing app TikTok from their mobile phones, the New York Times reported. However, the employee email informing them of this policy was sent in error, Amazon stated, five hours after it was sent.

Recently, the app was caught accessing its users’ clipboard data while remaining active in the background, which risked exposing sensitive information.

According to The Verge, “The behavior was revealed because of a new feature in iOS 14, and it’s unclear how long it had been present in the app.” Although TikTok removed the feature, privacy concerns remain strong. In a Friday email to employees, Amazon wrote, “Due to security risks, the TikTok app is no longer permitted on mobile devices that access Amazon email…“If you have TikTok on your device, you must remove it by 10-Jul to retain mobile access to Amazon email.” Although the company now forbids TikTok on its employees’ mobile devices, they are allowed to access it on Amazon laptop browsers.

The Verge also reported a TikTok spokesperson’s response to Amazon’s announcement. “While Amazon did not communicate to us before sending their email, and we still do not understand their concerns,” they said. “We welcome a dialogue so we can address any issues they may have and enable their team to continue participating in our community.” 

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News earlier this week that the Trump administration was considering banning the app, though it is unknown how this restriction could be enforced. One potential method would be through government contracts, locking TikTok out similarly to Huawei and ZTE.

This article has been updated to reflect that Amazon has reversed course from its initial policy communicated to employees.

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