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    BusinessWhy are several countries trying to ban TikTok?

    Why are several countries trying to ban TikTok?

    Why are several countries trying to ban TikTok?

    In recent months, lawmakers in the United States, Europe and Canada have intensified their efforts to restrict access to TikTok, the popular short-video app owned by Chinese company ByteDance, citing security threats.

    On February 27, the White House told federal agencies that they had 30 days to remove the app from their devices. The UK, Canada and the executive arm of the European Union have also recently banned the app on official devices.

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    Two days later, a US House committee endorsed an even more extreme move: voting to advance legislation that would allow President Joe Biden to ban TikTok on all devices in the country.

    Here’s why the pressure has increased on TikTok, which has claimed to be used by more than 100 million Americans.

    It all comes down to China.

    Western lawmakers and regulators have increasingly expressed concern that TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance, could put users’ personal data, such as location information, in the hands of the Chinese government. They have referred to laws that allow the Chinese government to secretly request data from Chinese companies and citizens for intelligence operations. They are also concerned that China could use TikTok’s content recommendations to misinform.

    TikTok has long denied these allegations and has tried to distance itself from ByteDance.

    India banned the platform in mid-2020, costing ByteDance one of its biggest markets, as the government cracked down on 59 Chinese-owned apps, alleging they were secretly transmitting user data to servers outside of India. .

    Since November, more than two dozen states have banned TikTok on government devices, and many universities — including the University of Texas at Austin, Auburn University and Boise State University — have blocked it on campus wireless networks. The app has now been banned from government devices in the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard for three years. But the bans don’t usually extend to personal devices. And students are often limited to using cellular data to use the app.

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    Some deputies would like it. In early March, the House Foreign Relations Committee voted to pass a bill that could give a president the authority to ban the platform altogether. (Courts previously stopped an effort by the Donald Trump administration to do this.)

    Josh Hawley, a Republican senator from Missouri, introduced a bill in January to ban TikTok for all Americans after pushing a measure, which passed in December as part of a spending package, that banned TikTok on all devices issued by the federal government. Another bipartisan bill, introduced in December, also sought to ban TikTok and other similar social networks from countries including Russia and Iran.

    TikTok stated this week that Biden’s management wants the Chinese-owned company to sell the app or face a potential ban. The government has remained largely silent, though the White House recently noted that a review is underway in response to questions about TikTok. For years, TikTok has held confidential discussions with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), the government’s review panel, to address questions about TikTok and ByteDance’s relationship with the Chinese government and the management of user data. TikTok claimed that in August it submitted a 90-page proposal detailing how it planned to operate in the United States with national security concerns in mind.

    Most of the bans that have been made on TikTok have been enforced by governments and universities that have the power to keep an app off their devices or networks.

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    A broader government-imposed ban on Americans using an app that allows them to share their opinions and their art could face legal challenges on First Amendment grounds, said Caitlin Chin, a fellow at the Center for Strategic Studies and International. After all, large numbers of Americans, including popularly elected officials and major news organizations like The New York Times and The Washington Post, now produce videos on TikTok.

    “In democratic governments, the government can’t ban free speech without very strong and specific reasons, and it’s not clear that we have them yet,” Chin said.

    The exact mechanism for banning an app on privately owned phones is unclear.

    Chin said the United States could block TikTok from selling ads or make updates to its systems, essentially making it not work.

    Apple and other companies that run app stores block downloads of apps that no longer work. They also ban apps with inappropriate or illegal content, said Justin Cappos, a professor at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering.

    They can also remove apps installed on a user’s phone. “That doesn’t usually happen,” she says.

    Reluctant users could also fight a ban by refusing to update their phones, “which is a bad idea,” Cappos said.

    TikTok has referred to the bans as “political theater” and criticized lawmakers for trying to censor Americans. “The fastest and most comprehensive way to address any national security concerns about TikTok is for CFIUS to adopt the proposed settlement that we have worked on with them for nearly two years,” Brooke Oberwetter, a TikTok spokeswoman, said in a statement. On the other hand, TikTok has been trying to win allies, recently making an unusual effort in Washington to meet with influential think tanks, public interest groups and lawmakers to promote the plan it submitted to the government.

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    Chinese ownership seems to be the main problem.

    Opponents of the platform ban point out that all social networks collect data from their users on a rampant basis.

    Fight for the Future, a nonprofit digital rights group, recently launched a #DontBanTikTok campaign with the goal of redirecting the attention of TikTok lawmakers to creating data and privacy laws that would apply to all big companies. technological.

    “The general consensus in the privacy community is that TikTok collects a lot of data, but it doesn’t clash with the amount of data other apps collect,” said Robyn Caplan, a senior researcher at the Data & Society Research Institute.

    The American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter in late February to the House Foreign Relations Committee protesting its bill, alleging that the legislation would violate Americans’ First Amendment rights.

    Of course, millions of Americans, digital creators, and advertisers would hate to see the platform go away, and blocking a popular app could spark a political backlash among young people.

    To protect your privacy on TikTok, you can use the same practices you use to protect yourself on other social media platforms. That includes not giving apps permission to access your location or contacts.

    You can also watch TikTok videos without opening an account.

    The government could approve TikTok’s plan to operate in the United States. There is also the possibility that lawmakers will force ByteDance to sell TikTok to an American company, something that almost happened in 2020.

    Sapna Maheshwari is a business reporter covering TikTok and emerging media companies. She used to write about retail and advertising. @sapna • Facebook

    Amanda Holpuch writes about general information. @holpuch

    Source: NYT Español


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