TikTok | New NY 23rd

Twitter, Instagram, and famously, Facebook have all been used by foreign adversaries for disinformation campaigns targeting US citizens. Our regulations should address these broad issues instead of singling out one platform.–Rep. Ilhan Omar

Doug Jacobson, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Iowa State University, in an article published in The Conversation, writes:

If the federal government comes to the conclusion that TikTok should be banned, is it even possible to ban it for all of its 150 million existing users? Any such ban would likely start with blocking the distribution of the app through Apple’s and Google’s app stores. This might keep many users off the platform, but there are other ways to download and install apps for people who are determined to use them.

A more drastic method would be to force Apple and Google to change their phones to prevent TikTok from running. While I’m not a lawyer, I think this effort would fail due to legal challenges, which include First Amendment concerns. The bottom line is that an absolute ban will be tough to enforce.

There are also questions about how effective a ban would be even if it were possible. By some estimates, the Chinese government has already collected personal information on at least 80% of the U.S. population via various means. So a ban might limit the damage going forward to some degree, but the Chinese government has already collected a significant amount of data. The Chinese government also has access – along with anyone else with money – to the large market for personal data, which fuels calls for stronger data privacy rules.

Government entities can address any concerns by banning TikTok on government-owned devices. Anyone concerned about privacy can avoid TikTok. Like Rep. Omar, I see no need to single out one media platform, which violates “equal protection of the laws.”

There is much more of interest in Professor Jacobson’s timely article. He concludes:

 Independent of a ban, families should have conversions about TikTok and other social media platforms and how they can be detrimental to mental health. These conversations should focus on how to determine if the app is leading you down an unhealthy path.

This entry was posted in Blog. Bookmark the permalink.