Angle: TikTok ban spreads in US, challenges intertwining interference and freedom | Reuters

[Los Angeles, 9fed Sefydliad Thomson Reuters]-Students at the University of Texas, USA, immediately after classes resumed in January, were told by university authorities that they could no longer access the Chinese video posting app TikTok on the campus Wi-Fi. I was notified of that

On February 9, immediately after classes resumed in January, students at the University of Texas received notice from university authorities that they could no longer access TikTok, a video posting app originating in China, through campus Wi-Fi and received. The photo is an image of the Tik Tok logo and the US flag. Picture taken in October 2020 (2023 REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)

Students react differently. Adam Nguyen, 19, a computer science major at the University of Texas at Austin, said, “TikTok is really concerned about security.” It sets a dangerous precedent for university authorities to decide what can be done in the country,” he complained.

The movement to ban the use of TikTok is spreading in the United States. This is due to fears that the personal information of US users will fall into the hands of the Chinese government through TikTok. However, to date there has been a lack of coordination in these efforts, partly due to political factors such as the US-China battle for hegemony in the IT industry and issues such as freedom of expression.

The House Foreign Relations Committee is expected to vote on a bill later this month to ban the use of TikTok.

“The concerns about data collection by Chinese companies are real, but the idea that banning TikTok will make this problem go away is not true,” said Ain Kokas, a professor at the University of Virginia and author of a book on data collection by China.

TikTok has over 100 million users in the United States. TikTok does not have access to the personal information of US users and has asked the US government for three years to ensure that its content is not manipulated by the Chinese Communist Party or anyone under the influence of the Chinese government. He said the ban was based on “baseless falsehoods.”

TikTok will be the most downloaded app in the US from 2021, according to data from data analysis company Sensor Tower.

President Biden signed a law last December banning the use of TikTok on government devices, and more than half of the country’s states have introduced similar regulations, including banning colleges and some elementary schools.

The move should be seen as part of a decades-long effort in the United States to limit the spread of high-tech technology from China, said Sarah Krebs, director of Cornell University’s Technology Policy Institute. He pointed out that the US has imposed import restrictions on equipment from Chinese telecommunications equipment giants Huawei Technologies and ZTE for more than a decade.

Meanwhile, in 2020, the then-Trump administration tried to ban the use of the Chinese messaging app WeChat, but a court blocked it, citing it as a potential violation of free speech.

Krebs pointed to a Forbes report in December that China’s ByteDance used its TikTok app to track down a number of journalists and find the source of the leak. He pointed to the fact that there is credibility in the concern. Although the need to restrict access to government terminals for TikTok is understandable, efforts to ban its widespread use are a political and commercial threat aimed at slowing its adoption, rather than outright banning it. He said be motivated by fear. “So far the process is fragmented and not very effective,” he said.

Students can easily get around bans by using their data, and government employees can access TikTok from their personal devices.

Cokas, of the University of Virginia, said the focus on TikTok highlights the lack of comprehensive data protection legislation in the United States that can address privacy concerns across multiple platforms. Rather than a serious effort to carefully consider and address the US high-tech data environment, the move aims to target and destabilize individual companies, he said.

Illinois representative Raja Krishnamurti, a Democrat, has called for a ban on TikTok in the United States. “It would be a problem if the data and algorithms of 140 million Americans could be controlled by the Chinese Communist Party,” he said in a phone interview.

Daniel Lyons of Boston College Law School argued that the ban on college campuses and the broader ban on TikTok raised concerns about free speech, which is protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution. “A blanket ban on TikTok would curtail more speech than is necessary to limit the flow of classified information to China,” he said.

<Policy filing >

In 2020, the Commission on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) ordered ByteDance to sell TikTok due to concerns that user data could end up in the hands of the Chinese government, has been discussing.

In 2019, CFIUS ordered Chinese gaming company Kunlun to sell its dating app, citing data privacy concerns.

TikTok plans to get US tech giant Oracle to store US user data, with US security departments to make decisions about data protection and content management.

Krishnamurti emphasized that policy making should be careful not to lean on xenophobia or racism. However, he added, “Having said that, we must recognize that the Chinese Communist Party is a real threat. We must deal with these threats on that basis.”

(Reporters Avi Asher-Schapiro, David Sherfinski)


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