Will the White Home’s New Push to Restrict Chinese language Surveillance Expertise Affect TikTok?
Could TikTok come under US government control again and face another possible ban in the region?
As you will recall, then-US President Donald Trump pushed for the app to be banned last July, party over concerns about the possible use of TikTok data for surveillance purposes, due to an implicit link with the Chinese government and, in part, Trump said, in retaliation against China for spreading COVID-19.
Efforts to ban TikTok were repeatedly stalled by legal challenges before they were finally abandoned by the new U.S. administration – albeit not without warning that it would at some point reassess the app and its data collection potential.
Today the US government announced an extension of the Trump administration’s term in office ruling to forbidS. Investing in Chinese companies based on “the tThreat from the Military-Industrial Complex of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) “.
According to the White House:
“President Biden [has] Expanded the scope of this national emergency by finding that the use of Chinese surveillance technology outside the PRC, and the development or use of Chinese surveillance technology to facilitate repression or serious human rights violations, pose unusual and exceptional threats.“
That will result in the US government restricting US investment and trade with 59 China-based companies, including Huawei, China Telecom Corporation, Greatwall, and more.
This could raise new concerns about the platform – the biggest sticking point is that under China’s cybersecurity law, every Chinese company is technically obliged to provide all user information to the CCP upon request when such a request is made. We obviously have no insight into whether such a request has ever been or will ever be made to TikTok or ByteDance, but the company has repeatedly assured users that their data is safe and that TikTok user information is stored outside of China and not for the CCP accessible.
Concern remains, however, and with TikTok appearing to be gathering more user insights and the U.S. government reviewing similar elements, it seems like the two may be moving towards yet another conflict.
On the other hand, “biometric identifiers and biometric information” are also collected by other social apps. YouTube apparently collects similar data, and Facebook has faced legal challenges in the past when collecting biometric data. While it sounds bad, especially given TikTok’s potential CCP link, it may not be as significant an update as it seems up front.
But it will likely be enough to get a few more Congressmen to look in the direction again, and if tensions between China and the US continue to escalate and China is likely to respond in some way to this latest round of restrictions it could Put TikTok in the spotlight again.
Which could spark new discussions about a possible ban or a possible sell-off, with Oracle and Microsoft perhaps submitting their bids again.
It’s too early to predict where such actions could lead, but it’s worth observing the situation and the potential implications for the world’s fastest growing social app.