TikTok Bill Could Ban Countless Apps And Sites

By Christopher Isaac | Published

Last week was a tumultuous time for social media and apps in general as the United States government is looking to finally crack down on apps that could be compromising the information of their users. TikTok is at the forefront of this bill, with it currently being the big app potentially on the chopping block to be banned in America unless the owners agree to sell it so it is no longer under foreign control. However, the contents of this bill could wind up cementing a lot of legal language that would introduce grounds to ban many other apps as well.

The TikTok Bill Targets Other Apps

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China currently operates the TikTok app, and growing proof of their country using the app to steal data from its users has our government now labeling it as a national security threat. This TikTok bill in essence targets any app with at least a million users that is for the creation of content. And the second requirement of the bill’s targeted apps is that they are also controlled by one of American’s foreign adversaries: Russia, China, North Korea, or Iran.

The Bill’s Language Could Be Too Broad

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However, opponents of the TikTok bill warn that they feel the language of the document is too broad and vague, and could wind up harming many innocent apps in the process. “There’s plenty of room here for creative interpretation for how someone could be in a foreign country calling the shots without being an owner,” said Evan Brown, a lawyer in Chicago dedicated to technology laws. “The President really has the unchecked power to put another app on this list.”

Other legal experts concur that though TikTok is in the spotlight for this bill, if passed, this legislature would completely alter the marketplace for apps in America. Likewise, they warn that this bill is moving fast and could pass quickly, but if the results have unintended consequences, it would be a much slower process to undo the bill and mitigate any inadvertent collateral damage. Some are questioning why the threshold for apps affected by this bill is so low at only needing a million users, when TikTok has over one billion monthly users.

Raising Tension With China

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And the TikTok bill does not come without other consequences. The Chinese government is not happy about America considering banning the app, and has issued a not-so-subtle threat of retaliation if this goes through. “This kind of bullying behaviour that cannot win in fair competition disrupts companies’ normal business activity,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin. “In the end, this will inevitably come back to bite the United States itself.”

TikTok Not Going Out Without A Fight

TikTok’s owners are also not accepting the bill lying down. Last week they sent out a push notification warning users of what Congress is trying to do and encouraging users to contact their legislators and make it clear that they are against this. Obviously, most TikTok users are probably not in support of Congress in this battle, and with over a billion users per month, that is quite a lot of people that the app can mobilize in their support.

The Bill’s Passing Could Set A New Precedent

In recent speeches, President Biden vowed to ban TikTok, mentioning it as one of his selling points for why voters should reelect him in 2024. If the TikTok bill does go through, it would mark the first major social media app to get banned in America.

Critics say even if TikTok is using people’s information like Congress fears, how is that any better than an American-owned company like Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook that has faced accusations of doing the same thing? There are a lot of tough questions surrounding this situation, and this stands to be a time of enormous upheaval for laws around apps.

Source: Gizmodo