Is a US TikTok Ban on the Horizon?

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Will TikTok get banned in the US? What are the arguments for and against a US TikTok ban? What does the ban mean for you?

In recent months, the White House, Congress, US armed forces, and more than half of US states have banned TikTok, from government-issued devices. There’s broad concern that TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, could share Americans’ personal data with the Chinese government.

Keep reading to learn about both sides of the argument.

Governments Ban TikTok

In late February, the White House gave federal agencies 30 days to delete the Chinese-owned video app TikTok from all government-issued devices. The dictate came on the heels of similar bans by Congress, the US armed forces, and more than half of US states—all sourcing from concerns that TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, could share Americans’ personal data with—or push propaganda and misinformation from—the Chinese government. 

What’s behind the spreading US TikTok ban? Who supports it and doesn’t? What does the ban mean for you? This article examines varied experts’ viewpoints on these questions. 

Why the TikTok Ban? 

TikTok, a popular social media app that allows users to create, watch, and share brief videos, has more than 100 million users in the US. It’s come under fire in the US because: 

  • The Chinese government can access this information via a 2017 law that compels Chinese companies to turn over data believed to impact national security.

TikTok has strenuously denied sharing user data with the authoritarian government. The company is engaged in a $1.5 billion restructuring plan it says will address US national security concerns and “firewall” Americans’ data from Chinese interference. “Project Texas” would make an Austin-based technology company responsible for monitoring TikTok’s algorithm and have third-party auditors silo and secure US user data.

Some experts say the initiative would give the US government an unprecedented opportunity to monitor and control the app’s operations. But lawmakers question Project Texas’s ability to secure user data, and a former TikTok employee claims that TikTok officials already lied to the US government about the initiative’s security controls. These allegations mirror those of a source who, in 2022, shared leaked audio revealing that Chinese engineers had accessed US TikTok users’ private data. 

TikTok Ban Proponents

In a rare display of bipartisan cooperation, senators from both sides of the aisle have come together to support TikTok bans: 

  • A Senate proposal would enable the Commerce Department to ban apps like TikTok from operating in the US if they pose a national security risk. 
  • A House Foreign Affairs Committee bill would empower President Biden to ban TikTok outright if the company shares user data with individuals tied to the Chinese government. 

The White House offered support for the Senate bill, and recently urged TikTok to tell ByteDance to divest their stakes in the app or face a possible US ban. Beijing responded that it would oppose such a sale-—proof, some say, of China’s influence on the app.

Can the US Ban TikTok Outright? 

Many experts argue that a total TikTok ban is problematic for a host of reasons:

  • It would be hypocritical, xenophobic grandstanding. Some argue that the US government already abuses and exploits user data gathered by US tech companies—so concerns it expresses about China doing the same are pure political showboating.
    • Studies from 2023 and 2021 found TikTok’s data collection practices to be comparable to—and no more of a threat than—those of US social media apps. 

Looking Ahead 

Whether the US government bans TikTok outright remains to be seen, though the verbal beatdown that members of Congress gave the app’s CEO at a March 23rd hearing suggests movement in that direction. 

Is a US TikTok Ban on the Horizon?

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Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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