If you haven’t gotten stuck under a rock lately, you probably know that TikTok is in hot water right now. The app is currently facing a nationwide ban in the US, and CEO Shou Zi Chew was recently grilled by lawmakers over TikTok’s practices and how it handles consumer app data.
The US fears the Chinese government could collect data from US users via TikTok owner ByteDance. As a result, the app has already been banned on government devices in both the United States and Canada, with the UK also considering a ban. However, this latest move would spread the ban nationwide, which may not be popular with the app’s more than 113 million US users.
With all the drama surrounding TikTok and this aggressive push by lawmakers, do you agree that the app should be banned?
TikTok knows it’s in a very precarious position with the United States. This is probably why the app recently updated its community guidelines with additional moderation of AI-generated content and hate speech. It also first released its Community Principles to give users a better understanding of how the app aims to keep its users safe.
However, lawmakers continued their efforts to ban the app.
During Friday’s testimony, Chew told lawmakers that China-based ByteDance employees have access to US data (via CNBC), at least for now. TikTok is apparently in the process of deleting data from servers in Singapore and Virginia that are still accessible by ByteDance, a project dubbed “Project Texas,” which would see its data stored by Oracle in the US. He also states that the Chinese government has never asked for TikTok’s data and that the company would refuse such a request.
But that didn’t seem enough to US lawmakers, who appeared just as concerned as before the hearing.
But for all the drama surrounding TikTok and the claims that the call to ban the app is about protecting American privacy, Android Central’s Jerry Hildenbrand writes that it’s more about politics than privacy and that the US is helping us protect privacy user data would have already failed .
“The big problem here is that there are many other apps that are just as bad (perhaps worse) when it comes to infringing on consumer privacy,” he writes. “We know of the few instances where companies have gone too far and been caught when Facebook (now Meta) and Twitter have both been caught doing things their own privacy policies said would never happen. So why ban TikTok and not Twitter?”
He says the answer lies in the fact that Americans are afraid of China, although the United States government also has workarounds that allow it to take any data it wants. He believes the best thing the US government can do is introduce stricter privacy regulations that US companies must comply with.
“In any case, the ban on TikTok is just a band-aid that will upset a lot of people. It’s not even a very good patch, and that’s coming from someone who thinks the app is as bad as the ‘government’ says it is.”