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U.S. Threatens To Ban TikTok and Other Chinese Apps

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Image Courtesy TechCrunch

TikTok is extremely popular with Generation Z teens. So much so that when President Donald Trump said that the U.S. government is “looking at” potentially banning TikTok, many content creators went into a frenzy. The thought of TikTok being banned at such a time when it’s making so many people happy, myself included, is unflattering. However, this move begs two questions… Where is this coming from and why is it a possibility?

Can TikTok Really Be Banned?

On the platform, users share their own 15-second video clips featuring music and filters. The functionality of the app is loved by so many that it has been downloaded over 2 billion times around the world. The app currently sits on the throne of the Apple App Store, Android Play Store and Huawei App Gallery.

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The U.S. banning TikTok will bring down a world of hurt for the Chinese owned app. This is because most of the users and creators are from the U.S. and a lot of revenue stems from there.

When asked by CNBC, Jennifer Golbeck, a professor who specializes in data privacy at University of Maryland’s College of Information Studies said that as far as she knows, the U.S. Government has never banned an app before. However, she notes that TikTok being banned is a possibility:

Huawei Ban Similarity

Last year, the U.S added Chinese smartphone maker Huawei Technologies to an economic blacklist in May 2019. The government cited national security concerns in that case. U.S. officials blocked their tech sales to Huawei. Why? Because they claim that the Chinese government could use Huawei’s equipment to spy on the U.S.

TikTok Is Just Another Security Threat

In TikTok’s case, Golbeck notes, it’s easy to imagine similar actions by the U.S. government. They can easily block companies like Google and Apple from allowing users to download the TikTok app in their app stores. If you already have an account, they will use service providers to block you from using the app.

The talk of a potential TikTok ban stems from longstanding concerns that the social media company shares personal data with ByteDance. This includes their contact lists, email addresses and location data.

Currently, TikTok says that the U.S. user data is stored in the States, with the only backup in Singapore. The company also claims that its data centres are located entirely outside of China.

For now, we are not really sure what’s going on in the background. How safe our data is. If TikTok really is the problem. However, it makes you think, when has our data ever been personal?

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