How could the Trump administration “ban” TikTok?

How could the Trump administration “ban” TikTok?

The Trump administration is reportedly considering banning Chinese social media apps, including the popular TikTok video. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo mentioned the opportunity on July 7, saying it was “something we’re looking at” in an interview with Laura Ingraham on Fox News. And on July 31, President Trump told reporters in one of the air forces that he intended to personally prohibit the application from using its own powers, instead of forcing the Chinese owner to divert it.

The comments could easily have been brighter. But Pompeo compared TikTok to Huawei և ZTE, two companies that had very real consequences after mocking the US government. Amid rising tensions between the United States and China, Trump, who is trying to ban TikTok, is not out, although it is not as clear as Trump, Pompeo and Ingram, it sounds, it can still cause problems. company և for its users. .

The most intensive software barriers occur at the network level, disrupting any communication between “users” of the target servers in the country. This is the approach adopted by China’s Great Firewall և this is how India applies its recent TikTok ban. (Australia, which is considering a similar ban, is likely to take the same approach). But US law has no precedent for blocking software in this way, so it seems unlikely that the White House will be able to reverse it. type of severe network censorship.

Pompeo compared the administration’s TikTok plans to its sanctions against Huawei դեմ ZTE, which included blocking them from government contracts. It is true that TikTok has banned the working phones of many employees, including the US military, and some lawmakers are pushing for wider restrictions. But Huawei and ZTE sold the components to telecom operators, who in turn worked with government agencies. TikTok is a consumer app, so it is much less punishable. “Huawei and ZTE are used by businesses,” said Sams Sachs, a senior fellow at Yale Law School in central China. “TikTok is used by so many people in the United States.”

A more likely target is the United States Commission on Foreign Investment (CFIUS), which oversees mergers and acquisitions involving non-US companies. Last year, CFIUS launched a national security investigation into TikTok, citing similar concerns about Pompeo ոյի կան there is sufficient evidence against the company to prosecute.

TikTok is a subsidiary of Beijing-based ByteDance, and critics have raised questions about both its overall privacy and possible ties to the Chinese government. Leakage moderation instructions outraged by criticism of events such as the Tiananmen Square protests. Although TikTok says it stores data about US users in the United States, there are persistent fears that it could leak information to Chinese government agencies. (TikTok has repeatedly denied that it is leaking information in this way, saying that moderation guidelines are no longer used.) “The Chinese government has a history of controlling nodes in the information system,” said Sarah Cook, a Freedom House analyst. The baby in an interview last year.

If CFIUS decides that Chinese ownership is a problem, the board could cause major problems for TikTok. In recent years, CFIUS has rejected some high-level mergers and acquisitions, including Purchase of a Chinese company The Grindr app for the gay-hook application, which was developed on the basis of national security. The board could rebuild TikTok to further separate the US presence from its Chinese presence, or even force ByteDance to sell to Musical.ly, a Chinese company whose US program helped launch TikTok in the US. However, it is not a “barrier” yet, it certainly does not apply to all Chinese social media programs at all.

To actually remove TikTok Americans’ phones, the government would have to do things like Apple և Google severing ties with ByteDance (along with any other Chinese app makers). Removing it from the iOS App Store և Google Play Store will significantly reduce TikTok appeal, even if you can still access it through a nearby app or website. In particular, Apple strictly controls iOS devices; Its App Store policy is so restrictive that antitrust lawsuits are filed. The government will, in fact, order the companies to shut down TikTok, և the distortion can be extremely powerful.

To do this, the Trump administration could repeat the tactics used with Huawei. Put the Department of Commerce on TikTok “List of persons” it limits its trade ties with American companies. The administration does not need congressional approval to do this, it can refer to any American company that works with them (prohibiting special exceptions) to violate sanctions. Has a list of organizations stopped Google from working with Huawei On Android phones, if TikTok is successfully added to the list, Apple և Google will hardly keep them in the App Store.

For Ames Lewis, director of technology policy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says putting TikTok on the list would be extremely, unusually, legally questionable. “They could impose sanctions, but usually the punishment is related to trade violations or espionage, distribution or theft of intellectual property. You just can’t do it because you’re crazy about a company, ”says Lewis. Unlike TikTok, Huawei stands actual U.S. criminal charges for racketeering գաղտն trade secret theft. The allegations against TikTok are still suspicions, not legal complaints. Even an unrelated lawsuit for illegally collecting children’s data was resolved almost immediately.

Trump is often not too worried about him orders: are: legal If he issues an executive order to “ban” TikTok or other Chinese programs, it will probably be appealed in court immediately, but it will still create uncertainty – damage to reputation. The White House is already trying warn investors away from Chinese companies և even the intermittent problems of the App Store will weaken the growth of its users և would hurt advertising revenue. And many users may not realize that Trump could not legally close TikTok, so they could have given up before that, even if something happened.

None of these options can literally ban TikTok, that is, a block that cuts American users off of the TikTok network. Like the threats of President Trump turning off Facebook և TwitterThe discussion of banning Pompeo’s TikTok obscures the real limits of US government power. Even so, owning one is still beyond the reach of the average person.

Updated: August 1, 12:12 ET. He added that President Trump has now personally threatened to ban the program using his presidential powers.

Correction. An earlier version of this piece referred to Musical.ly as an American app, but did not mention that the company itself is Chinese. This has been updated for simplicity.

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