As a product of the massive Chinese company ByteDance, Tik Tok came to the US in 2018, and soon took the social media scene by storm. With the app’s addictive, teen-friendly recommendation engine and intuitive video-making process, Tik Tok quickly became the go-to choice in internet culture.
However, as it has grown in popularity, so too has scrutiny from US lawmakers. since it is rooted heavily in China. Chinese law requires its domestic companies to “cooperate” with the state’s security efforts, in turn creating a connection to the Chinese government. This raises concerns about China’s influence over TikTok content in the US, and more importantly, its access to American users’ data.
The Potential Risk of Doing Nothing
As Tik Tok’s popularity skyrocketed in July 2020, the Trump Administration announced it was considering a ban on the app in the US, but with the 2020 presidential election looming, it never materialized. Now, the Biden Administration is considering a Tik Tok ban, citing concerns over the app’s ability to compromise US national security.
Much of this centers on the notion that the Chinese government could use Tik Tok to gather troves of data from US users. Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota recently stated, “There’s a huge amount of data out there which will never be touched, never be used. But it’s the small pieces that add up.”
Some experts, both inside and outside of the US government, see the app’s potential to harvest data as a real cyber threat. Due to this perceived threat, in February the Biden administration directed all government agencies to delete TikTok from federal devices and systems within 30 days.
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