Tik Tok has become an international sensation among teenagers. Its popularity skyrocketed during the Covid-19 pandemic and the app has been downloaded more than a billion times around the world. Tiktok users generally post short videos ranging from dance routines to politics on the platform.
Millennials calls it Vine 2.0, a similar app that lets you post short six second videos and a lot of people grew in fame from the platform. Famous Tiktok users or “tiktokers” has become known worldwide and the platform also became a career platform for them, heck, they even made a house just for ticktockers to make Tiktok videos all day.
Unfortunately the joy it brings does not correlate well with certain people and most definitely not with President Donald Trump. After the scandal with google banning their android OS to the Huawei smartphone, Trump decided to add fuel to the fire by banning not one but two apps developed by a Chinese company Bytedance, Tiktok and Wechat. Yes, the current president of the United States is banning the platform and there are some reasons as to why he did that.
Why TikTok is getting banned in the us
On the 6th of august 2020, trump issued an executive order on the ban of two social media apps, Tiktok and Wechat. The ban will be executed in 45 days of the order, unless the Chinese company sells the two massive apps to U.S. operations instead, Microsoft or another U.S. firm or face an outright ban.
Trump claims that the ban on these popular apps is to maintain their national security. He stated that the app has the capabilities of tracking locations of federal employees, collecting information for use in blackmail and/or spy on other companies. He continues by saying that due to the huge growth of the platform by the Chinese firm it “threatens the national security, foreign policy and economy of the United States”. Moreover, he says that the data collected by the app, personal information, emails, will allow the Chinese communist country access to American persona and proprietary information.
Not actually a false claim by trump yet on the surface, the main concern raised is around data security and data privacy. The issue is not focused on the traditional issues of national security such as access to classified government information on either weapons or intelligence systems since the data collected by the app is focused more on personal information rather than the country’s information.
If you were around during the Vine era, then you know how Tiktok basically works, users would create content by posting short video clips and is very popular among the young generation with us having an estimated 100 million active users. Just like other social networking platforms, the app does collect extensive data on the users which became the main reason for the possibility of a ban. The concern is about the possibility of the collected data being used as a leverage for either espionage or blackmail. Another concern is about the censoring of political speech that can be used to spread misinformation to the public.
Does Trump have the authority for a nationwide ban?
Experts have questioned whether Trump has the authority to issue the ban which would violate American’s first amendment rights and yes, he can. There are two ways for Trump to issue a nationwide ban, through two channels of administration that can be used to limit the actions of a foreign company on US soil to address concerns of national security. The first is through an interagency committee, known as Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), that is authorized to review, block and compel divestment of foreign acquisitions of U.S businesses where necessary. Tiktok was reported to have been under the review since last year and there is growing speculation in recent weeks that CFIUS will soon issue an order for Bytedance to sell Tiktok to the US with Microsoft emerging as the most likely buyer.
However the Trump administration did not use that channel and instead acted through the second channel, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). The IEEPA grants the president the authority to intervene in economic markets, as long as the actions are tied to a formally declared emergency. As IEEPA has a broader jurisdiction than the CFIUS, it allows the white house to target Wechat, in addition to Tiktok, and the ability to not only divest, but also block any future transactions from the app with Americans.