What we All Know about Trump’s ‘ban’ on TikTok and WeChat

Jake Levins September 18, 2020 7 No Comments

What we know about Trump’s ‘ban’ on TikTok and WeChat

The next date is November 12, if the Commerce Department says the service will probably confront a more sweeping ban which can render any usage of TikTok at all. But that is hardly set in stone . It notes if TikTok can address Trump’s “national security concerns” before that date (which will probably involve some type of deal with Oracle), the arrangement might be lifted. 

As Missouri Senator Josh Hawley indicated at a tweet, the arrangement appears to be about applying pressure to China, instead of implementing a whole ban at the moment. So at a feeling, the latest threat really gives TikTok a bit more time to solidify a bargain. 

But! China could throw a wrench in these types of plans.

Speaking of China, that the Chinese government has a say in all this. Even if TikTok agrees to a deal which suits Trump, ByteDance still needs approval out of China. Further complicating matters is that the destiny of TikTok’s recommendation algorithm, which currently falls under the Chinese government’s trade rules on AI technology exports. 

What are the “national security concerns” anyhow?

As we have previously pointed out, the Trump administration has yet to introduce any hard proof of this assumed national security threat posed by TikTok. The primary concern was as a Chinese tech company, ByteDance might be made to hand over user information or work together with all the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to surveil American users. (TikTok has insisted that it would not comply with such requests) In that the DoC order, the government states that TikTok “collects vast swaths of data from users” and can be “an active participant in China’s civil-military fusion and is subject to mandatory cooperation with the intelligence services of the CCP,” but cites no particulars. 

Critics have pointed out that the information accumulated by TikTok is very similar to that which other popular programs (such as Facebook) scoop up, which Trump has demonstrated little interest in regulating different programs from Chinese technology companies. 

What will TikTok need to say about all this?

Unsurprisingly, TikTok states it is “disappointed” at the latest turn of events and it will “continue to challenge the unjust executive order.” In a statement, a company spokesperson said the company has already gone out of its way to appease the government’s requirements.  

“In our proposal to the US Administration, we’ve already committed to unprecedented levels of additional transparency and accountability well beyond what other apps are willing to do, including third-party audits, verification of code security, and US government oversight of US data security,” that the spokesperson said. “Further, an American technology provider would be responsible for operating and maintaining the TikTok network in the united states, which would incorporate all services and information serving US customers. We will still continue to challenge the executive orderthat has been enacted without due process and threatens to deprive the American individuals and tiny businesses across the US of a substantial platform for a voice and livelihoods.”

Who else is in their own side?

TikTok is not alone in its opposition to the government’s measures. The American Civil Liberties Union issued a statement calling Trump’s activities”an unprecedented abuse of emergency powers” 

Selectively banning systems does little to safeguard our personal data from misuse — comprehensive surveillance reform and customer privacy laws would really help accomplish this objective. Instead, the bans could cut off the flow of data, artwork, and communicating that social media supplies, cooperating with communities and relations users at the United States have with one another and with individuals around the globe. This interference with freedom of association and expression violates the First Amendment.

TikTok also discovered a second, somewhat improbable, defender in Instagram main Adam Mosseri, that said “a US TikTok ban would be quite bad for Instagram, Facebook, and the internet more broadly.” (Mosseri did not, but respond to TikTok Interim CEO Vanessa Pappas’ suggestion who Facebook and Instagram “publicly join our challenge and support our litigation.”) 

Where does WeChat rack in all of this?

While TikTok could nevertheless find a way ahead, WeChat’s scenario is far more dire. As The New York Times points out, the Commerce Department’s order may severely influence WeChat’s efficacy considerably faster.

“Because of the ban on transactions between American businesses and WeChat, the service may begin to degrade on Sunday,” The NYT states ) “Messages may begin sending slowly or even time out.” 

Though WeChat has considerably fewer users at the US compared to TikTok — Tencent’s program had 3.3 million monthly active users in america in August, based on data in App Annie —  it is an enormously important service for anyone who have family members and friends at China, in which the program basically is the internet. WeChat is indeed dominant in China it is used for everything in messaging and social networking to banking and reserving physician’s appointments. So although the American variant of the program is considerably different, it is still a vital link back into the nation for anyone with any type of ties into the nation, business or private.

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