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The TikTok ban

They finally did it?
The icon for TikTok metaphorically blocked by the shadow of Congress.
Paul Matzko
The icon for TikTok metaphorically blocked by the shadow of Congress.

The United States Senate voted 79-18 on passing a law called the National Security Actr of 2024. Included in the bill is funding for more weapon shipments to Ukraine and Israel. The Bill also includes money given to Taiwan for its defense and welfare. 

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson walks out of Congress after passing the bill to ban TikTok. (Forbes)

However, this law package also includes a more controversial bill called the Protecting Americans’ Data from Foreign Adversaries Act of 2024. This at face value can seem like a regular protection law for the safety of Americans, and in many ways it is, but most serious is that this bill mandates that the Social media platform TikTok must be sold to an American company within a year or the app will be banned in the United States. 

A pro TikTok protester stands at the Capitol (Nathan Howard)

This is a big decision by Congress and one that has not gone without criticism from many Americans who rely on TikTok for their source of income or to help with reaching a large audience. The other argument against the banning of TikTok is the idea that the platform bolstered free speech and was an excellent method of expressing viewpoints. 

However, you may ask why TikTok was banned, and the answer is complicated.

TikTok was created in 2016 by a Chinese company named ByteDance. In recent times the company has been scrutinized for the company’s close relationship with the Chinese Government and what data the app collects and where that data is stored. 

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It is no secret that apps collect user information for advertising or getting to know their user base. However, TikTok was found to be collecting much more information on its users than what is normally collected, The user’s fingerprints and face scans, mobile carrier, time zone settings, model of your device, operating system, location, and much more are collected, and a study concluded TikTok even embeds tracking into pictures online. 

This means that even people who have never been to the site can still have data collected. Another thing the app collects is keystrokes and user behavior when scrolling and what keys they press and even what is on their copy and paste, TikTok collects. Now if you realize that over 170 million Americans use TikTok you can only imagine the piles of data they have collected. 

Does TikTok serve as Binoculars for China? (Splash)

A second reason for the ban is ByteDance’s close relationship with China and the known evidence that indicates TikTok willfully gives China TikTok data, consisting primarily of American data and in some cases the fingerprints and face scans of Americans. TikTok has also been found to censor anti-Chinese posts that criticize their president and seemingly allow criticism of other country’s presidents like Biden and Trump. 

On November 27th, 2019, TikTok temporarily suspended the account of 17-year-old Afghan-American user Feroza Aziz because she posted a video exposing China’s internment camps. The Bill sets an 8-month deadline in which TikTok must be sold to an American Company or risk a US ban. This is a problem because China is adamant they will not allow a forced sale of TikTok leading to only one possible conclusion to this which would be a US ban. 

Before this ByteDance announced they would sue the government for banning their app and court battle looms. I wrote an article last year about a proposed US TikTok ban, back when the idea initially had lost momentum in Congress, but times have changed, and Congress has finally voted to ban TikTok, in principle.

What would a TikTok ban look like under this law? TikTok would be unable to be downloaded from the app store and tech companies would legally be required to deny the updating of the app, leading to the app becoming glitchy and eventually unusable.

Whether or not you believe this is the right course of action you cannot deny this decision will be looked upon for years to come regardless of the outcome.

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About the Contributor
Matthew Gemme
Matthew Gemme, Staff Reporter
I am a junior at Sutton. That is all you get.

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