TikTok avoided a ban in the U.S. last year, but the risk factor is not totally gone under the Biden administration. Here’s what you need to know.
TikTok breathed a sigh of relief with the signing of an executive order by President Biden that revoked an older Trump-era directive seeking to ban the viral app, but the possibility of a U.S. ban remains very real. The past twelve months have been a tumultuous ride for the social media app in the U.S., as the ByteDance-owned platform weathered two executive orders signed by President Trump that warned of blocking company transactions and the intention to ban the app.
In spite of the executive orders, TikTok received relief from the courts when the potential ban was blocked. With its legal shield intact, TikTok also avoided a change in ownership. To recall, TikTok was ordered to sell its U.S. operations to an American company or face a market ban citing user privacy and national security concerns. Microsoft was rumored to be interested in acquiring TikTok’s U.S. assets, but Oracle was eventually picked as the partner. After President Biden came to power, ByteDance opted out of the Oracle-TikTok deal.
The fresh executive order signed by President Biden overturned the older mandates, but TikTok might not enjoy a fairytale run in the U.S. market in the immediate future. A report from Reuters, citing internal sources, claims Chinese apps like TikTok will be forced to abide by stricter privacy measures if they want to continue to do business in the U.S. These mobile and desktop applications may also be issued subpoenas by the U.S. Department of Commerce to collect information. The agency will then accordingly chart the future course of action — ban the app or let it continue operating in adherence with all the guidelines. TikTok, on the other hand, has repeatedly stressed that it remains vigilant when it comes to data privacy and doesn’t pose any security threat.
Risk Of US Ban Still Looms Over TikTok
US government officials are reportedly concerned that apps such as TikTok might be exploited by the Chinese government for location tracking, building databases of personal information on high-ranking government employees, and even corporate espionage. Notably, the recent executive order signed by President Biden doesn’t specifically name TikTok or any other app, but the scope of Chinese apps and software covered by the order is said to be even wider than before. In addition, U.S. officials have also reportedly been in touch with their counterparts in other countries, seeking their support in taking a similar approach in the hope that they can collectively enforce a ban on apps that are deemed to be a threat.
According to the information, apps that are found to have links with military or intelligence agencies in China will be reviewed by the U.S. Commerce Department and a notice will subsequently be issued. Once the app/company under review receives the notice, they’ll be given 30 days to present their side of the story or implement measures that can allay concerns. As per the report, TikTok is among the eight apps that stand eligible for scrutiny by officials under the Biden administration order, which broadly covers not only social media apps, but also banking, business, and productivity apps as well. TikTok has taken legal recourse when facing prospects of a U.S. ban in the past and will likely knock on the court’s doors once again, if it faces a similar predicament under the Biden administration.
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