Angle: TikTok ban spreads in the US, intervention and freedom intertwined challenges | Reuters

[Los Angeles, 9th Thomson Reuters Foundation]-Students at the University of Texas, USA, immediately after classes resumed in January, were told by the university authorities that they could no longer access the Chinese video posting app TikTok on campus Wi-Fi. I received a notification that

On February 9, immediately after classes resumed in January, students at the University of Texas received a notice from the university authorities that they could no longer access TikTok, a video posting app originating in China, via campus Wi-Fi. received. The photo is an image of the Tik Tok logo and the US flag. Photo taken in October 2020 (2023 REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)

Students react differently. Adam Nguyen, 19, a computer science major at the University of Texas at Austin, said, “TikTok is genuinely concerned about security.” It sets a dangerous precedent for university authorities to decide what can be done in the country,” he complained.

The movement to ban the use of TikTok is spreading in the United States. This is due to fears that the personal information of US users will fall into the hands of the Chinese government through TikTok. However, these efforts have so far lacked coherence, partly due to political factors such as the US-China struggle for hegemony in the IT industry and issues such as freedom of expression.

The House Foreign Relations Committee is set to vote on a bill later this month to ban the use of TikTok.

“The concerns about data collection by Chinese companies are real, but the idea that banning TikTok will make this problem go away is not true,” said Ain Kokas, a professor at the University of Virginia and author of a book on data collection by China.

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TikTok has over 100 million users in the United States. TikTok does not have access to the personal information of US users and has asked the US government for three years to ensure that its content is not manipulated by the Chinese Communist Party or anyone under the influence of the Chinese government. In a previous statement, it said the ban was based on “unsubstantiated falsehoods.”

TikTok will be the most downloaded app in the U.S. from 2021 onwards, according to data from data analytics firm Sensor Tower.

President Biden signed a law last December banning the use of TikTok on government devices, and more than half of the states in the country have introduced similar regulations, including banning colleges and some elementary schools.

The move should be seen as part of a decades-long U.S. effort to limit the spread of high-tech technology from China, said Sarah Krebs, director of Cornell University’s Institute for Technology Policy. He pointed out that the United States has imposed import restrictions on equipment from Chinese telecommunications equipment giants Huawei Technologies and ZTE for more than a decade.

Meanwhile, in 2020, the then-Trump administration tried to ban the use of the Chinese messaging app WeChat, but a court blocked it, citing it as a possible violation of free speech.

Krebs pointed to a December Forbes report that China’s ByteDance used its TikTok app to track down several journalists and find the source of the leak. He pointed out that there is credibility in the concern about. While the need to restrict access to government terminals for TikTok is understandable, efforts to ban its widespread use are a political and commercial threat aimed at slowing its adoption, rather than banning it outright. He said it was motivated by fear. “So far the process is patchy and not very effective,” he said.

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Students can easily get around bans by using their data, and government employees can access TikTok from their personal devices.

Cokas, of the University of Virginia, said the focus on TikTok highlighted the lack of comprehensive data protection legislation in the United States that can address privacy concerns across multiple platforms. Rather than a serious effort to carefully consider and address the U.S. high-tech environment with respect to data, the move aims to target individual companies and destabilize them, he said.

Illinois Rep. Raja Krishnamurti, a Democrat, has called for a ban on TikTok in the United States. “It would be a problem if the data and algorithms of 140 million American users could end up being controlled by the Chinese Communist Party,” he said in a phone interview. rice field.

Boston College Law School’s Daniel Lyons argued that the ban on college campuses and the broader ban on TikTok raised concerns about freedom of speech, which is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. “A blanket ban on TikTok would infringe on more speech than is needed to limit the flow of sensitive information to China,” he said.

<Policy filing>

In 2020, the Commission on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) ordered ByteDance to sell TikTok over concerns that user data could end up in the hands of the Chinese government. have been negotiating.

In 2019, CFIUS ordered Chinese gaming company Kunlun to sell its dating app, citing data privacy concerns.

TikTok plans to have U.S. tech giant Oracle store U.S. user data, with U.S. security divisions to make decisions about data protection and content management.

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Krishnamurti stressed that policymaking should be careful not to lean towards xenophobia or racism. However, he added, “That said, we must recognize that the Chinese Communist Party is a real threat. We must deal with these threats on the basis of that.”

(Reporters Avi Asher-Schapiro, David Sherfinski)

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