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Trying to Understand the “TikTok Ban”

🌈 Abstract

The article discusses the "TikTok Ban" in the United States, including:

  • What the "Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act" entails
  • The rationale behind banning TikTok as a national security threat
  • The forced sale of TikTok and the implications of this approach
  • The political aspects and potential outcomes of the TikTok ban

🙋 Q&A

[01] What the Act Does

1. What does the "Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act" do?

  • The act defines a "foreign adversary controlled application" as an app or website with over 1 million monthly active users that is controlled by a "foreign adversary" of the US.
  • This category of apps can be banned by the US President if deemed a national security threat.
  • The act specifically names ByteDance, its subsidiaries/successors, and the TikTok app/website as immediately affected.
  • After 270 days (with a 90-day extension), TikTok and any other affected apps will be banned from being distributed or updated in the US.
  • Penalties for distributing or updating a banned app include up to $5,000 per user for organizations.
  • Affected companies can sell the app to a non-foreign adversary company to avoid the ban.

[02] Rationale for the TikTok Ban

1. What are the main concerns about TikTok being a national security threat?

  • There are concerns that the TikTok app itself could be conducting surveillance on users' devices, but the author notes that modern mobile app approval processes make this unlikely.
  • Another concern is that TikTok's algorithms could be used to influence US users in ways that benefit China, but the author states that the evidence for this is unclear.
  • The author suggests that a broader data privacy law like the "Protecting Americans' Data from Foreign Adversaries Act" might be a better approach to address the underlying issue of data surveillance.

2. How does the author view the "forced sale" aspect of the TikTok ban?

  • The author is uncomfortable with the idea of forcing ByteDance to sell TikTok, as they feel this sets a concerning precedent and may not align with ByteDance's goals or pride in building the platform.
  • The author questions who would be able to purchase TikTok, noting that the largest tech companies are mainly US-based and may face regulatory hurdles.
  • The author suggests the forced sale is likely a political move to make the TikTok ban more palatable, given the platform's popularity in the US.

[03] Potential Outcomes

1. What are the three possible outcomes the author sees for the TikTok situation?

  • TikTok wins a lawsuit against the ban
  • TikTok is sold to another company
  • TikTok is banned from operating in the US

The author believes the most likely outcome is that TikTok will be banned in the US, and they are concerned about the precedent this could set.

Shared by Daniel Chen ·
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