TikTok Is Embraced By Mercedes, Booted By European Commission

TikTok continues to be banned by a growing number of governmental bodies, even as it’s embraced by major brands, along with more than a billion consumers worldwide.

The juxtaposition has never been starker than this week, when the short-form video app is simultaneously being banned within the European Commission (EC), and made available (along with other popular apps) in the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class cars coming to market this fall.

The EC, which has about 30,000 employees, on Thursday issued a directive suspending use of the TikTok app on all corporate devices and workers’ personal devices when used for work purposes, citing concerns about cybersecurity threats. The EC also said that other social media platforms will be kept “under constant review.”

Meanwhile, Mercedes will become the first auto maker to feature TikTok.

TikTok — along with Zoom, Angry Birds, the Vivaldi web browser, Webex by Cisco and other apps — will be available in the updated version of the large-screen MBUX infotainment system in the new E-Class cars (above), in markets including the U.S. and China, a key growth market for Mercedes. Drivers will be able to watch TikTok and other video apps when parked.

Mercedes developed new software architecture that makes it easier to integrate third-party apps in the infotainment system, and also launched its own app store. (By the middle of the decade, Mercedes plans to replace the MBUX with its own MB.OS operating system.)

Among other announcements made this week at its research and development center in Sunnydale, California, Mercedes also revealed a long-term partnership with Google which will enable it to offer YouTube, maps and navigation capabilities while having control over its marketplace and IP.

On the governmental front, concerns that Chinese parent company ByteDance could be passing TikTok-gathered data to the Chinese also led the UK Parliament to abruptly shut down its own short-lived TikTok account last summer, and caused the U.S. House of Representatives to order, in December, that staff and lawmakers delete the app from all government-issued mobile devices.

Some state governors have banned TikTok’s use in local agencies, and some universities in those states have voluntarily banned it from campus Wi-Fi networks.

India banned TikTok and many other Chinese-developed apps in 2020.

Although some U.S. politicians and government officials — including Donald Trump, during his presidency, and FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr — have called for a total ban of TikTok in the U.S., that prospect seems unlikely at this point.

TikTok said it was “disappointed” by the EC’s ban decision, and reiterated its stance that such decisions are “misguided and based on fundamental misconceptions.”

TikTok — which has also been questioned by EU officials about whether it will comply with Europe’s coming Digital Services Act (DSA) designed to increase online platforms’ accountability — has been upping its investments in infrastructure, including building data centers in Europe.

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