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Why Countries Are Trying to Ban TikTok

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Why Countries Are Trying to Ban TikTok

(CTN News) – The immensely popular short-form video app TikTok is owned by the Chinese corporation ByteDance. Legislators in the US, EU, and Canada have recently ramped up their attempts to limit access to the app, claiming security concerns as the reason.

On February 27, the White House informed federal agencies that they had 30 days to remove the software from government devices. Following this, several towns have banned its download by government employees.

To take things to the next level, a House committee voted to move legislation that would enable President Biden to block TikTok from all devices nationwide on March 1.

House committee members spent almost five hours questioning Shou Chew, CEO of video-sharing app TikTok, on March 23 regarding the service’s ties to its parent business and the possibility of Chinese influence on the site.

The reason behind the increased pressure on TikTok is as follows.

Why are governments banning TikTok?

China is where it’s at.

Western legislators and authorities are growing increasingly worried that ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, may provide sensitive user data, such as location information, to the Chinese government.

The Chinese government is able to covertly request data from Chinese residents and businesses for intelligence collection purposes, according to these claims. Furthermore, they are concerned that China might manipulate TikTok’s content recommendations to spread false information.

As far back as anyone can remember, TikTok has rejected the claims and sought to separate itself from ByteDance.

Does TikTok have a ban in any countries?

In mid-2020, the platform was banned in India, cutting ByteDance out of one of its largest markets. The government had previously cracked down on 59 apps owned by Chinese nationals, alleging that they were secretly sending user data to servers outside of India.

A number of other nations and governmental entities have also prohibited the app from being used on official devices. These include the UK and its Parliament, Australia, Canada, the EU executive branch, France, and New Zealand’s Parliament.

Where are the prohibitions in America at the moment?

Over twenty states have taken action since November, prohibiting the use of TikTok on government-issued smartphones.

Boise State University, Auburn University, and the University of Texas at Austin are among the numerous universities that have disabled access to it on campus. Students, however, frequently utilize the program by simply switching to cellular data.

It was the first ban of its sort in the nation when Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte signed a bill prohibiting TikTok from functioning inside the state in May.Lawmakers were sued by TikTok, who claimed the laws infringed upon their First Amendment rights.

The prohibition was set to go into effect on January 1st, but a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction to halt it in late November.

The judge ruled that the First Amendment and the provision granting Congress the authority to regulate commerce with foreign nations would be likely infringed by imposing a ban.

The New York City Cyber Command identified TikTok as an app that “posed a security threat to the city’s technical networks,” according to a spokesperson from City Hall. As a result, the app was removed from city-owned devices in August.

Deciding that the prohibition on TikTok usage by state employees was a “reasonable restriction” given Texas’s worries about data privacy, a federal judge in Texas upheld the ban in December.

For the past three years, the app has been inaccessible on government-issued military devices in the United States.

Is there a move in Congress to outlaw TikTok?

A few of us would prefer to. A measure that would allow the president to outright ban the platform was approved by the House Foreign Affairs Committee in March. (An earlier attempt by the Trump administration to do this was thwarted by the courts.)

After successfully lobbying for a proposal to ban TikTok on federally issued devices in December as part of a spending package, Republican senator Josh Hawley of Missouri proposed a bill in January to ban the app for all Americans.

So, what exactly is the Biden administration up to?

Recent reports have indicated that the Biden administration is pressuring TikTok’s Chinese ownership to sell the app or risk being banned. In response to inquiries on TikTok, the White House recently referenced an ongoing review, but otherwise, the administration has remained mostly silent.

TikTok has been in private discussions with the CFIUS review panel, which is part of the administration, for years in order to answer their questions.

A 90-page application outlining TikTok’s plans to operate in the US while resolving national security concerns was submitted in August, according to the company.

Three sources familiar with the situation have confirmed that the Justice Department is looking into TikTok’s monitoring of American journalists.

Two American TikTok reporters and several of their associates had their personal information improperly accessed, according to a December statement from ByteDance.

Are apps subject to government bans?

Governments and institutions, who have the authority to block apps on their devices or networks, have imposed the majority of the current TikTok restrictions.

An app that allows Americans to express their thoughts and art could face legal challenges on First Amendment grounds, according to Caitlin Chin, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

This would be in the event of a broader, government-imposed prohibition. A lot of people in the US now make videos for TikTok, including politicians and big news outlets like the NYT and the Washington Post.

What happens if I have TikTok installed on my phone at the time of ban issuance?

It is not apparent how to prohibit an app on personally owned phones.

The US might prevent TikTok from selling ads or updating its systems, according to Ms. Chin, rendering the app useless.

Apple and other app store operators do in fact disable the ability to download incompatible apps. According to Justin Cappos, an associate professor at the Tandon School of Engineering at New York University, they also prohibit applications that include unlawful or improper content.

Furthermore, they can uninstall any apps that a user has installed on their phone. “That is not common,” he stated.

How has TikTok responded?

In response to the restrictions, TikTok called them “political theater” and said that lawmakers were trying to censor Americans.

“The swiftest and most thorough way to address any national security concerns about TikTok is for CFIUS to adopt the proposed agreement that we worked with them on for nearly two years,” stated Brooke Oberwetter, a spokeswoman for TikTok.

In a separate development, TikTok has been engaging in unusual lobbying activity in Washington DC in an effort to get support for the proposal it filed to the government.

What sets TikTok apart from Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter in terms of privacy and security?

It appears like the biggest problem is the Chinese ownership.

The fact that every single social media network collects user data in massive quantities has been raised by those who are against the platform’s prohibition.

In an effort to shift lawmakers’ focus away from TikTok and toward the creation of data and privacy regulations that would apply to all Big Tech companies, the nonprofit digital rights group Fight for the Future has launched a #DontBanTikTok campaign.

As a TikTok user, what steps can I take immediately to safeguard my information?

Similar to how you can safeguard your privacy on other social networking sites, you can do the same on TikTok. This includes being careful about the apps you allow access to your location and contacts.

Another option is to simply view videos on TikTok without creating an account.

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