News JVTech After India, the first economic power begins to ban TikTok from its smartphones
Published on 02/01/2023 at 19:15
Two and a half years after India, a new country has decided to ban certain smartphones in 2023: it is the United States. Total banishment is also on the line in the USA.
In June 2020, a decision taken by the Indian government resounded like a thunderclap in the world of social networks: the country then decided to completely ban 59 Chinese applications, including TikTok. The Chinese social network had proclaimed loud and clear that it respected “the security and privacy of data under Indian law” and that it did not share any information with the Chinese government, the sentence had fallen. Since, India did not reverse its decision.
At the start of 2023, the Chinese social network could have new cold sweats. In the United States, the House of Representatives recently voted to ban TikTok on all federally issued devices and networks. It means that all people connected with the US government, and having a professional smartphone, are strictly prohibited from installing TikTok on it : the only exception concerns teams working on the subject with a view to “developing possible risk mitigation measures”.
TikTok suspected of spying by the USA
The risks in question are linked to suspicions of spying on the USA by China. Espionage which could therefore go through the data collected by TikTok on American territory. Named “No TikTok on Government Devices”, the American law echoes the decision taken in recent months by some twenty American states to ban TikTok on the professional smartphones of their employees.
Washington has had suspicions about TikTok for years. But in early December 2022, a Forbes media investigation added fuel to the fireby revealing that TikTok accounts run by the Chinese government’s propaganda branch were allegedly used to manipulate public opinion during the US midterm elections. What motivate the US government to tackle the problem head-on.
Towards a total ban on TikTok in the United States?
This TikTok ban on government employees’ smartphones might just be the start. Some US senators want the Chinese social network to be banned in the US altogether. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said last week that broader legislation would soon be put to a vote. The law in question would seek to block all social media companies linked to, or under the influence of, China, Iran, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela. TikTok would therefore not be the only platform targeted, but it would undoubtedly be the most important.
Questioned by the Indian media The Economic Times, Brendan Carr, one of the commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission in the United States, did not hesitate to consider that TikTok “works as a sophisticated surveillance tool”. He said in the process that the total ban on the application in the United States represented “the next natural step in our efforts to secure the communication network”. “We need to follow India’s lead more broadly, to weed out other bad apps as well,” he added. After Huawei, Bytedance, the company that publishes TikTok, could therefore bear the brunt of a radical decision in the United States.