First the ban was due 20 September, then it was pushed back 27 September, and then Judge Carl Nichols has halted the ban. But now it seems that US President Donald Trump does have the authority to ban the app.
However, this TikTok flip-flop from Trump has left users in the States in limbo. Most users aren't bothered with the details going on behind the scenes – all they want is access to their favorite app.
The previously mentioned ever-changing date was a deadline for the removal of TikTok from app stores, but in any case current users would have been able to continue – albeit without updates available. That fate has been postponed for now, but the long-term repercussions are hard to parse – and it's now looking more likely that a ban may come into effect before the year is through.
While Trump appears to have given his blessing to the Oracle/Walmart deal, the executive order to entirely ban TikTok by November 12 is still up in the air – and for all we know, that may well come to fruition.
Thanks to this uncertainty, interest in the best VPN is surging as users seek out TikTok VPNs as a way of evading blocks on the service.
Why is TikTok being banned?
Although TikTok itself isn’t available in China, owner ByteDance is a Chinese-based tech giant, and it’s common knowledge that companies based in China have to hand over sensitive information to the government if requested. Outside of China, this is seen at its most innocent as a breach of privacy, and at its most sinister a critical threat to national security.
Because it's a social media service, TikTok does collect a lot of data about its users. However, while companies like Facebook and Google do the same, TikTok's Chinese roots are the sticking point as the US government doesn't want citizens to hand out that sort of information to a country it doesn't trust.
Comparable to the UK government’s backlash against Huawei’s 5G hardware, President Trump is taking a hard line – whether properly thought out or not – and whatever the reasoning, the fact remains that TikTok's fate is very much in the hands of the US courts and the President himself.
While there's much talk about a US-based takeover of TikTok, the reality is that we’ll have to wait and see. If not, TikTok could soon be history – and to concerned users, a VPN might look like a potential solution.
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How might a TikTok VPN work?
A VPN works by encrypting and rerouting your internet connection through its own servers located all across the world. In effect, this means it can make you appear to be in any country of your choice.
Also, seeing as a VPN routes your traffic through its own servers and makes it invisible to your ISP, any restrictions or blocks imposed by said ISP can be avoided. That means you can access things like torrenting sites which, while legal, are blocked by most providers.
Most commonly used to access blocked streaming media (check out our Netflix VPN guide for more info), some users think that the same technique might also grant them access to TikTok. However, we simply can't say for sure if any VPN will do the trick.
The downsides of TikTok VPNs
Because the TikTok ban hasn’t come into action yet, it’s difficult to say how the process will work. Reports of TikTok VPN usage in India – where it’s already banned – are unclear. Some say that VPNs are perfectly effective, while others find the restrictions impassable.
It all depends on how the ban is implemented. While TikTok is inevitably fighting the decision, we expect the US to follow much the same route as the Indian government, which means the mobile apps will be removed from app stores and service may degrade as time passes and updates can't be installed.
The Independent states that it will be illegal 'to provide the underlying internet infrastructure that powers it, or to allow its code to be accessible', and this implies the onus will be on ISPs and mobile network operators to enforce the ban. This may mean that bypassing your ISP's servers and using a VPN to change your location could be a possible solution.
However, we highly recommend you seek out the most recent information about the legalities of the situation yourself to fully inform yourself of any risks, and no VPN services mentioned on this page claim to be either foolproof ways of accessing TikTok, or specifically designed for this purpose.
What VPNs have the best chance of unblocking TikTok?
If – and that’s an important ‘if’ – the TikTok ban materializes and you want to try to access the service withy a VPN, it’s worth seeking out a service that has a good track record of evading government censorship.
Big name offers excellent security-focused experience
Possibly the most famous VPN around, NordVPN provides a watertight security with really usable apps – plus an excellent track record of accessing restricted content in authoritarian regimes. With over 5,000 servers you’re bound to find one that provides great connection speeds, and you’ll also be able to install it on pretty much any device you own, too.View Deal
Incredible value yet fully-featured VPN
If you’re looking to save money but still get one of the best VPNs on the market, Surfshark could be your best option. It works great as a streaming VPN and also unblocks restricted content when used as a UAE VPN, so it may give you a good chance with TikTok. Plus, for less than $2.50 a month, it’s also one of the cheapest services on the market.View Deal
IPVanish – great value plus free cloud storage
US-based IPVanish could be worth a test if you're thinking of using a VPN to evade the TikTok ban. With tons of US servers plus great privacy and security, it's one of the best US VPN services on the market. Plus, you'll also get 250GB free cloud storage from SugarSync.View Deal
TikTok VPN FAQ
Will a TikTok VPN be illegal?
Depending on breaking news, it's difficult to estimate exactly how and when TikTok will be banned – but we're comfortable saying that VPNs themselves are unlikely to become illegal.
However, using a VPN doesn't make any illegal activity legal, like downloading pirated software.
We're unlikely to see TikTok use criminalized, and if you do get access we doubt you'll be punished. After all, the legislation is about the protection of data rather than illicit content, so the end user should be at very little risk.
We will, however, have to wait and see what action the courts take on the issue, and whether Oracle/Walmart pulls the trigger on a purchase.
What else could I use a TikTok VPN for?
Other than potentially accessing TIkTok, there are tons of other VPN uses.
One of the most popular reasons for having a VPN is to access geo-restricted streaming content. Netflix, for example, serves different shows to people in different countries, so you'll be able to watch content that's not available at home. Also, if you're on holiday, you'll be able to watch the shows you're used to at home.
The main reason for having a VPN, though, is to maintain privacy and anonymity online. You'll be able to avoid trackers and targeted adverts, and your internet service provider won't be able to see what you're browsing on the web.