TikTok: How would the US go about banning the Chinese app?


“We may be banning TikTok,” President Trump instructed reporters, saying an announcement may come as quickly as this weekend.

He added there have been different choices – however how may a ban work?

One apparent beginning place can be to order Apple and Google to take away the app from their on-line shops.

This may be executed by including TikTok’s proprietor Bytedance to a Commerce Department entity record, and forbidding US corporations from working with it – an identical tactic was used to cease Google offering its apps to Huawei.

That would stop new customers from having the ability to obtain the app.

Existing customers can be prevented from receiving notifications and putting in updates, though they’d nonetheless have the app on their units.

One technique to handle this might be to inform Apple and Google to make use of a “kill switch” facility they each have, which lets them remotely wipe or stop blacklisted apps from launching.

A Brazilian decide as soon as threatened to power the 2 corporations to make use of the facility in 2014, however in the end backed off.

Apple and Google would possible be detest to take management of customers’ smartphones in such a approach and may even resist such an order.

So a better different may be to compel native web service suppliers to dam entry to TikTok’s servers.

This would have the added benefit of stopping TikTok’s movies being viewable by way of its web site.

India took such a measure when it banned TikTok and dozens of different Chinese apps. And customers have reported being unable to avoid the block through the use of a digital personal community (VPN).

But it is not clear how Mr Trump would implement such an order.

A much less draconian approach can be to ban TikTok from being put in onto federal workers’ work telephones.

Congress has already voted in favour of the thought and the Senate continues to be contemplating it. But that will be a a lot much less dramatic move than Trump appears to be hinting at.

An additional risk is that the Committee on Foreign Investment within the United States (Cifus) – which is chaired by the US Treasury – rules towards Bytedance’s takeover of the app Musical.ly, whose customers had been migrated over to TikTok in 2018.

Musical.ly was owned by one other Chinese start-up.

But Cifus has the facility to evaluation takeovers that probably pose a nationwide safety danger. And as a result of Bytedance didn’t search clearance for the acquisition on the time, the committee was capable of launch a post-deal probe final yr.

If Cifus rejects the takeover, it may order Bytedance to close down the service within the US.

The query is whether or not a spun-off TikTok can be allowed to proceed below completely different possession instead, maybe even with a rebrand.

Microsoft is reportedly in talks to accumulate the enterprise – some web wags have already recommended it may be referred to as Microsoft Teens (a play on the the agency’s Teams service).

The US tech big would presumably be seen as a extra reliable guardian of the info the app collects, and assuage fears the China may nonetheless be one way or the other accessing its logs.

When requested concerning the prospect of such a deal, Microsoft declined to remark.

What does TikTok say?

“One hundred million Americans come to TikTok for entertainment and connection.

“We’ve employed nearly 1,000 individuals to our US workforce this yr alone, and are proud to be hiring one other 10,000 workers.

“TikTok US user data is stored in the US, with strict controls on employee access. TikTok’s biggest investors come from the US.

“We are dedicated to defending our customers’ privateness and security as we proceed working to carry pleasure to households and significant careers to those that create on our platform.”

TikTok Timeline

Image copyright EPA

March 2012: Bytedance is established in China and launches Neihan Duanzi – an app to assist Chinese customers share memes

September 2016: Bytedance launches the short-form video app Douyin in China

August 2017: An worldwide model of Douyin is launched below the model TikTok in some elements of the world, however not the US presently

November 2017: Bytedance buys lip-synch music app Musical.ly

May 2018: TikTok declared world’s most downloaded non-game iOS app over first three months of the yr, by market analysis agency Sensor Tower

August 2018: Bytedance proclaims it’s shutting down Musical.ly and is transferring customers over to TikTok

February 2019: TikTok fined in US over Musical.ly’s dealing with of under-13s’ information

October 2019: Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg publicly criticises TikTok, accusing it of censoring protests

November 2019: Cifus opens nationwide safety investigation into TikTok

May 2020: TikTok hires Disney government Kevin Meyer to turn into the division’s chief government and chief working officer of Bytedance

July 2020: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, after which President Trump, say TikTok could also be banned