TikTok Calls on US Users to Oppose the Latest Proposal to Ban the App

TikTok is once again calling on its U.S. users to lobby the government on its behalf in light of the latest push by U.S. Senators to ban the app.

Earlier this week, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators proposed a new bill that would essentially force TikTok’s parent company ByteDance to sell the platform into U.S. ownership, or it would be banned from America entirely. The proposal stems from concerns that TikTok is providing U.S. user data to the Chinese Government, which still looms as a threat to its existence.

In response, TikTok says that the proposed bill is in violation of the First Amendment, while it’s also issued a rallying call to U.S. users in the app, with this pop-up alert appearing in-stream.

TikTok ban

It’s not the first time that TikTok has called on its user community to oppose Congress on its behalf.

In March last year, after the White House moved to empower the President to impose restrictions on the app, TikTok shipped a crew of platform influencers to the capital so that they could “stand side-by-side with the TikTok team” to oppose the move.  

Maybe that had an impact, as TikTok hasn’t been banned yet, and maybe that’s why TikTok is looking to employ the same tactics again, using its massive user base as a means to spook U.S. Senators into voting against any proposed bill.

Though I doubt that it’ll have any real impact.

Cybersecurity experts continue to sound the alarm about the app, and its linkage to the C.C.P., and as global tensions continue to simmer, it feels like action against TikTok is entirely down to the decisions of the Chinese Government.

Right now, U.S.-China relations seem relatively stable, so there’s likely no reason why the White House would feel compelled to act. But any change could offset that balance, and leave TikTok as a casualty of geopolitical unrest.

And that’s always a possibility. China’s ever-advancing actions in the South China Sea, and its push to uphold its rule over surrounding nations, could easily put it on a collision course with the U.S., and if that happens, a TikTok ban could quickly be enacted.

Indeed, Chinese officials have this week criticized the U.S. for imposing trade sanctions against Chinese companies, and that alone could be another reason for the resumption of discussions around a TikTok ban.

Yet, at the same time, any outright ban of any Chinese company from operating in the U.S. will lead to retaliatory restrictions from the C.C.P. China is the third-largest export market for the U.S., which makes this a risky proposal, and is likely why the White House has been hesitant to act.

But does TikTok actually pose a security risk?

Well, the key concern is that all Chinese-owned companies have to share data with the Chinese Government on request, as per China’s cybersecurity laws. There’s no evidence to suggest that the C.C.P. has requested such, but there are indications that U.S. user data is still being transferred to China, and if the C.C.P. sought it, it could access a lot more, if it chose.

With that as the basis, you would have to conclude that TikTok does pose a security risk, but then again, that’s also defining China as a risk in itself, which leads to other accusations and complications within the U.S.-China relationship.

But the bottom line is that concerns will remain until TikTok is either sold off or banned.

It just depends on how significant government officials view such, and within that, I’m not sure that a few calls from TikTok users will sway opinion.

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