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US Senators Raise New Push to Ban TikTok

by California Digital News

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Just when you thought that TikTok was safe, and that the U.S. Government had moved on from the possibility of banning the app, another group of regulators have proposed new action against the company, which could see TikTok face removal from the U.S. once again.

As reported by Reuters:

A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers is introducing legislation that would give China’s ByteDance about six months to divest popular short video app TikTok or face a U.S. ban.”

The new action, led by Rep. Mike Gallagher and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, is aimed to “address national security concerns posed by Chinese ownership of the app”.

Which remains a point of contention, given that TikTok is owned by Chinese multi-national ByteDance, and as such, is beholden to China’s contentious cybersecurity laws, which, among other elements, include provisions that could technically compel TikTok to provide U.S. user data to the CCP on request.

To be clear, no such request has ever been reported, and TikTok has long maintained that it remains separate from its Chinese ownership. Yet, at the same time, various reports have continued to raise concerns, including a recent update which found that U.S. user data is still being routed to China in some cases, and that ByteDance has many former and current CCP staffers in its ranks.

In essence, a direct link between TikTok and the Chinese Government is fairly clear, though that still doesn’t necessarily mean that TikTok is being influenced or utilized by CCP officials in any way. But that concern is enough to maintain tensions among various cybersecurity and government officials, who continue to raise the specter of CCP interference at regular intervals.

Which may be right, and given broader geopolitical movements, there could be logical reason to ban the app, or force a more definitive disconnect between TikTok and its homeland. And at the same time, you can be assured that lobbyists representing American social apps are also looking to prompt action whenever they can.

So will TikTok actually be banned?

My personal contention is that the U.S. Government remains hesitant to take any further action against TikTok due to fears of retaliatory action that could impact other elements of U.S.-China trade. The Chinese Government would not take the banning of a Chinese company from operating in the U.S. lightly, and until there’s a more definitive reason for concern, it does seem like the U.S. Government is happy to reserve judgment on the app.

But that may not be the case, and maybe, with this new push, TikTok will come under renewed scrutiny, which could see it cop a full ban in the region. And if the U.S. bans the app, you can bet that many other Western nations will follow-suit.

There is also the ongoing TikTok separation project (Project Texas), within which TikTok’s U.S. user data would be stored on completely isolated U.S.-based servers, under official oversight. TikTok’s also building a similar project in Europe, and really, given the money involved, you would think that this is more likely to be enacted before a full ban would be implemented.

Nothing is pending as yet, and neither approach is definitely going to happen. But it’s another reminder that TikTok could indeed be banned at some stage based on lingering concerns.  

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