The US Government Is Still Threatening To Ban TikTok

TikTok told the media this week that US federal officers are demanding that the Chinese Owners of the app sell their stake in the social media app, or they risk facing a US ban of the app due to security concerns. 

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TikTok told CNN this week that US federal officers are demanding the Chinese owners of the app sell their stake in the platform or they could face a total ban of the platform in the US due to continuous security and data privacy concerns. 

The multi agency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States is leading the new directive to potentially ban the app, after years of negotiations between TikTok and the US government.

The main concern coming from US officials alleges that the app could be infiltrated by the Chinese government to spy on American users and gain access to user data on the platform. Others have voiced their concerns over the potential of China pushing propaganda on the app, in a larger scale fight between the US government and the amount of access social media platforms truly have to our information. 

TikTok CEO Shou Chew recently spoke at a Harvard Business Review conference where he emphasized that the Chinese government has never used the app for what the government is accusing it of. 

“The Chinese government has actually never asked us for US user data, and we’ve said this on the record, that even if we were asked for that, we will not provide that. All US user data is stored, by default, in the Oracle Cloud infrastructure, access to that data is completely controlled by US personnel.”

The Biden Administration rescinded a Trump-era executive order that targeted TikTok two years ago, and replaced it with a larger directive focused on investigating all technology that’s linked to foreign advertisers. Chew pointed out that 60% of TikTok’s owners are all global investors. 

Chew also went on to emphasize that the allegation that the Chinese government would use the app to bring propaganda to a US audience is also false, claiming that it would be bad for business. “Misinformation and propaganda has no place on our platform, and our users do not expect that,” he stated. 

“If protecting national security is the objective, divestment doesn’t solve the problem,” TikTok spokesperson Maureen Shanahan said in a statement.

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“A change in ownership would not impose any new restrictions on data flows or access. The best way to address concerns about national security is with the transparent, US-based protection of US user data and systems, with robust third-party monitoring, vetting, and verification, which we are already implementing.”

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Across the globe, India banned TikTok in the summer of 2020, following a violent border incident between India and China. The ban disconnected more than 200 million users in India. The United States, Canada, and United Kingdom have also implemented policies that ban the app from being used on official government devices. 

Last year, President Joe Biden also signed legislation that prohibited TikTok on federal government devices, and more than half of the states in the US have enacted similar policies for state level government officials. 

“This ban is a little more than political theater. The ban of TikTok on federal devices passed in December without any deliberation, and unfortunately that approach has served as a blueprint for other world governments,” a TikTok spokesperson added.