Could the U.S. Be The Next Country to Enforce a TikTok Ban?
TikTok, the hugely popular Chinese video-sharing app, has gone from being heavily scrutinized to being entirely forbidden in some areas of the world. Citing security concerns, India recently instituted a “TikTok Ban,” barring its citizens from accessing the app. The U.S. government is now considering following suit. While some may see TikTok as a harmless social media platform, others, including several within the U.S. government, believe it could be a threat to privacy and national security.
Why is the U.S. considering a TikTok ban?
Tensions between the U.S. and China are at an all-time high and some U.S. officials see banning TikTok as a way to protect its citizens from their private information being leaked to the Chinese government.
When a Fox News anchor questioned Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, on whether he recommended downloading the app, he curtly replied, “Only if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”
President Donald Trump is also in agreement with banning the app, but his reasoning differed from Pompeo’s. Instead of citing security issues, Trump is considering the ban as a way to punish China over the coronavirus. When prompted by Gray Television’s Greta Van Susteren, Trump offered this stance.
“Look, what happened with China with this virus, what they’ve done to this country and to the entire world is disgraceful.”
What is TikTok saying in response to a potential U.S. TikTok ban?
Although owned by Beijing-based start-up, ByteDance, TikTok states it’s data center is not located in China and its data does not have to comply with Chinese law. A U.S. spokesperson for TikTok told CNN Business that, “The national security concerns are “unfounded.”
Newly appointed TikTok CEO, American, Kevin Mayer, reiterated these sentiments in a recent letter to the Indian government:
“I can confirm that the Chinese government has never made a request to us for the TikTok data of Indian users,” he said.
“If we do ever receive such a request in the future, we would not comply.”
So, Is There Proof of TikTok Infringing on Users’ Privacy?
According to an article from Forbes, yes.
Apple recently fixed a major issue in the iOS 14, debuting this fall, where apps can secretly access the clipboard on users’ devices. Now, when the new OS is released, users will be alerted when an app reads the last thing copied to the clipboard.
Countless apps, including TikTok, have been caught lurking in users’ clipboards.
Bytedance originally blamed the issue on an outdated Google advertising SDK that was being replaced. However, the issue still exists and TikTok’s latest excuse for accessing users’ clipboards is, it’s “triggered by a feature designed to identify repetitive, spammy behavior.”
The inconsistent responses have left many feeling suspicious and uneasy.
What’s Next For Video Streaming Apps?
Instagram is quickly jumping to fill the void TikTok has left in India. It’s reported that Instagram Reels has already begun rolling out in India.
A Facebook spokesperson recently stated, “We’re excited to expand our test of Instagram Reels to India. Reels gives anyone the ability to create and discover short-form videos, which is how more and more people are enjoying and creating content.”
So where does that leave us – the content creators, marketers and storytellers who have quickly come to rely on TikTok as a source of entertainment, engagement and income? Your guess is as good as ours.