Unless you've been stuck under a rock lately, you're probably aware that TikTok is in some hot water right now. The app is currently facing a nationwide ban in the U.S., and CEO Shou Zi Chew was recently grilled by lawmakers about TikTok's practices and how it handles consumer app data.
The U.S. fears the Chinese government could collect data from U.S. users via TikTok owner ByteDance. Because of this, the app has already been banned on government devices in both the United States and Canada, with the U.K. also considering a ban. However, this recent move would spread the ban nationwide, which may not be popular among the app's audience of more than 113 million U.S. users.
That said, with all the drama surrounding TikTok and this aggressive push by lawmakers, do you agree that the app should be banned?
TikTok knows it's in a very precarious predicament with the United States. This is likely why the app recently refreshed its community guidelines with additional moderation of AI-generated content and hate speech. It also published its community principles for the first time in order to give users a better understanding of how the app aims to keep its users safe.
However, lawmakers pressed on with their efforts to ban the app.
During Friday's testimony, Chew told lawmakers that Chinese-based employees at ByteDance have access to U.S. data (via CNBC), at least for now. TikTok is apparently in the process of deleting data from servers in Singapore and Virginia that can still be accessed by ByteDance, an effort dubbed "Project Texas" that would see its data being stored in the U.S. by Oracle. He also states that the Chinese government has never asked for TikTok's data and that the company would refuse such a request.
Still, that did not seem to be enough for U.S. lawmakers, who appeared just as concerned as before the hearing.
Yet, with all the drama around TikTok and claims that the call to ban the app is about protecting American data, Android Central's Jerry Hildenbrand writes that it's more about politics than privacy and that the U.S. has already failed us when it comes to protecting user data.
"The big problem here is that there are a lot of other apps that are just as bad (maybe even worse) when it comes to consumer privacy violations," he writes. "We know about the few times companies took it too far and got caught, as Facebook (now Meta) and Twitter were both caught doing things their own privacy policies said would never happen. So why ban TikTok and not Twitter?"
He says the answer comes down to Americans being afraid of China, even though the United States government also has workarounds it can use to take whatever data it wants. He believes the best thing the U.S. government can do is instill tougher data privacy protections that U.S. companies must abide by.
"In any case, banning TikTok is just a Band-Aid that will piss off a lot of people. It's not even a very good Band-Aid and this is coming from someone who thinks the app is every bit as bad as the 'government' says it is."
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Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.