In recent years, the United States government has been increasingly concerned about the use of Chinese-owned apps, particularly TikTok. While there are certainly valid concerns about data privacy and national security, there is also evidence to suggest that the government’s push to ban TikTok is more about a power grab than it is about protecting American citizens.
In August of 2020, former President Donald Trump signed an executive order calling for TikTok to be banned in the United States. TikTok had 45 days to sell to an American company. The order cited national security concerns. It accused TikTok of collecting data on American citizens that could be shared with the Chinese government. TikTok denied these claims and filed a lawsuit against the US government, arguing that the ban was unconstitutional.
[Congressional TikTok Ban](/uploads/2023/03/tiktokArticle_two.webp>
The proposed ban was eventually put on hold by a federal judge, but the issue did not go away. In September of 2020, a bipartisan group of senators introduced the “No TikTok on Government Devices Act”. It banned the use of TikTok on government-issued devices. The bill was passed by the Senate, but has yet to be taken up by the House.
While banning TikTok on government devices may seem like a reasonable measure, there are concerns that it could be a slippery slope toward greater government control over the internet and social media.
Could the government’s concern about TikTok is really about controlling the flow of information and limiting free speech.
Congressional TikTok Ban
In an op-ed for The Hill, Emma Ashford and Erica D. Borghard argue that the government’s push to ban TikTok is just one example of a broader trend of government overreach. When it comes to national security it seems to be a trend.
“The drive to ban TikTok is part of a much broader trend of government officials using national security concerns as a pretext for limiting free speech, stifling competition, and consolidating their own power.”
There is also evidence to suggest that the government’s concerns about TikTok are based on flawed assumptions. The New York Times found that the data TikTok collects is not significantly different from what other social media platforms collect. There is no evidence that TikTok has shared user data with the Chinese government.
Overall, the push to ban TikTok can be seen as a power grab disguised as a national security concern. While there are certainly valid concerns about data privacy and national security, there is also a danger that the government’s push to limit free speech and control the internet could have far-reaching consequences. As we move forward, it is important to consider the broader implications of the government’s actions and to ensure that any measures taken to protect national security are balanced against the need to protect individual freedoms and rights.