Image courtesy of Fox Business
By Franchetta Groves
Donald Trump issued an executive order on Thursday, August 7, which will effectively ban the app TikTok in 45 days if it is not bought by multinational technology company, Microsoft. Trump has been threatening this ban for quite some time as fears about the video sharing app’s connections to the Chinese government mount. The main concern involved with the app is that it is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party which can censor content that they deem “politically sensitive”.
Another concern is that the app could be used to spread misinformation which benefits the Chinese Communist Party, as was seen when false information was spread about COVID-19. Furthermore, those opposed to the app fear that it could be used to collect information from its users. The Indian government has already banned the app due to claims that it was collecting children’s data and sending it back to China. Due to these fears, TikTok has already been banned from any U.S. federal employees phone.
TikTok is owned by the Chinese parent company ByteDance, however the app itself is not available in China. China has an almost identical version called Douyin which has the same logo, interface, and content. However it has faced claims of more censorship as well as facial recognition technology to ensure that no one outside of China can use the app.
TikTok responded to the Executive Order by saying that this set a dangerous precedent which “undermined global business trust in the United States.”
Trump’s executive order also raises the question of whether or not he has the authority to ban the app. Under the current executive order Apple and Google would be required to remove it from their app stores. WeChat, another Chinese messaging app, is also facing a possible ban with similar stipulations.
“These Chinese software companies doing business in the United States are feeding data directly to the Chinese Communist Party, their national security apparatus,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “Could be [users’] facial recognition pattern, it could be information about their residence, their phone numbers, their friends, who they’re connected to. Those are the issues that President Trump’s made clear we’re going to take care of. These are true national security issues.”
TikTok has also been accused of collecting clipboard data through iOS, without the consent of users. However other apps, such as LinkedIn and The New York Times app, have also been copying clipboard data without asking for explicit consent from users. Microsoft and other US companies are currently considering buying the app, allowing it to remain in the United States.
“If TikTok separates as an American company, that doesn’t help us, because it’s going to be worse – we’re going to have to give China billions of dollars for the privilege of having TikTok operate on US soil,” said White House adviser Peter Navarro
TikTok has remained committed to remaining in the United States and are preparing to take legal action against the executive order. Their legal team will most likely argue that the order is unconstitutional because they did not give the company time to respond.
“President Trump’s executive order to ban TikTok is a vital step needed to strengthen our national security. TikTok used the facade of being a child-friendly app to steal valuable information from United States citizens for our geopolitical adversary, China,” sophomore politics major Michael Ippolito commented. “I believe President Trump has the authority to ban TikTok as any company willing to sell out the American people is not allowed in our nation.”