September 28, 2023


Move Step By Step

TikTok for Tat – Harris Bricken Sliwoski LLP

4 min read

TikTok has been within the information so much these days, particularly since its CEO Shou Zi Chew’s contentious testimony earlier than the U.S. Home Committee on Power & Commerce. People are responding by asking completely different questions. Some, presumably together with most of those that take pleasure in, and maybe even create, TikTok content material, ask, “Why are we whipping ourselves right into a hysteria to scapegoat TikTok?” Others, many pushed by issues over doable entry to TikTok information by the Chinese language authorities, but in addition nervous in regards to the potential negative results of TikTok use, query, “Why can’t we simply ban TikTok?”And plenty of them, particularly these on the older facet, surprise, “What Is TikTok?”

When discussing present or doable TikTok bans, we should distinguish between employer-specific prohibitions affecting solely the units issued by the employer in query and a wider ban that will forestall anybody from utilizing the TikTap app within the nation. The primary sort of restriction appears completely cheap, and in reality many such limits are already in place, each in the private and non-private sectors, each in america and in lots of different nations all over the world. And such restrictions are cheap not simply on information safety grounds. Employer-issued telephones and units are, usually talking, work instruments, and there are few of us who have to entry TikTok for work functions. If Georgia and Wisconsin state staff who’ve work telephones actually need to know what Oriana Colutta has in her bag, they need to get their very own cellphone (or ask their youngsters to point out them).

Stopping common residents from utilizing TikTok is one other matter altogether. People ought to be involved in regards to the entry completely different events should their private info, nevertheless it doesn’t comply with that the federal government must, or ought to, defend them towards their very own carelessness. A blanket ban by the federal authorities on TikTok would have severe implications for civil liberties and set up a harmful precedent. It’s towards the hazards of emboldening censorious authorities actors that the dangers posed by TikTok should be weighted.

Simply how a lot of a risk TikTok presents is an open query, which we received’t delve into right here. However let’s, for the sake of argument, assume that the Chinese language authorities do have, or may acquire, entry to info collected by TikTok on its American customers. The danger of that occuring ought to definitely give everybody some pause, however then once more the type of info on People held by TikTok data is already, and doubtless extra readily, obtainable to Chinese language authorities from different sources.

Take People who fly on Chinese language carriers, both to China or to a different nation altering planes in China. These carriers acquire People’ passport and bank card particulars earlier than issuing a ticket. Does anybody suppose that, say, Air China wouldn’t, if ordered to by the CCP, hand over that info to a Chinese language safety company? The identical goes for People who place orders from Chinese language producers by way of Alibaba or who purchase straight from Chinese language sites. Certainly, it’s fairly possible the CCP already has prepared entry to this info with out having to order anybody to offer it to them, and even ask.

One may argue that the examples above contain People who willingly selected to interact with Chinese language entities, reminiscent of Air China. But by now most People who find out about TikTok additionally find out about its ties to China. It’s exhausting to argue that the voluntary use of TikTok is any completely different from shopping for an Air China ticket, putting an order for footwear from a manufacturing facility in Fujian, or shopping for from a Chinese language-owned web site. Nobody forces the People in query to interact in any of those interactions, together with TikTok use.

The actual concern with TikTok is the dearth of reciprocity that permits it to be freely utilized in america, whereas a few of the hottest American social media apps and web sites usually are not legally or freely accessible in China. Reciprocity ought to be one of many bedrocks of worldwide relations, however it’s typically lacking from the equation relating to China, largely as a result of China (for apparent causes) fully ignores this concern. What occurs with TikTok is however one in all many examples. Evidently the actual query People ought to be asking is, if Google, Fb and the New York Instances can’t be freely accessed in China, why ought to TikTok be obtainable in america? Appears unfair. Convince us otherwise.

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