TikTok for Tat – Harris Bricken Sliwoski LLP

TikTok has been within the information so much these days, particularly since its CEO Shou Zi Chew’s contentious testimony earlier than the U.S. Home Committee on Vitality & Commerce. People are responding by asking completely different questions. Some, presumably together with most of those that get pleasure from, and maybe even create, TikTok content material, ask, “Why are we whipping ourselves right into a hysteria to scapegoat TikTok?” Others, many pushed by considerations over attainable entry to TikTok information by the Chinese language authorities, but additionally anxious concerning the potential negative results of TikTok use, query, “Why can’t we simply ban TikTok?”And lots of them, particularly these on the older aspect, marvel, “What Is TikTok?”

When discussing current or attainable TikTok bans, we should distinguish between employer-specific prohibitions affecting solely the gadgets issued by the employer in query and a wider ban that might forestall anybody from utilizing the TikTap app within the nation. The primary kind of restriction appears completely cheap, and actually many such limits are already in place, each in the private and non-private sectors, each in america and in lots of different international locations around the globe. And such restrictions are cheap not simply on information safety grounds. Employer-issued telephones and gadgets are, usually talking, work instruments, and there are few of us who have to entry TikTok for work functions. If Georgia and Wisconsin state staff who’ve work telephones actually need to know what Oriana Colutta has in her bag, they need to get their very own cellphone (or ask their children to point out them).

Stopping common residents from utilizing TikTok is one other matter altogether. People must be involved concerning the entry completely different events must their private data, nevertheless it doesn’t observe that the federal government must, or ought to, shield them in opposition to their very own carelessness. A blanket ban by the federal authorities on TikTok would have critical implications for civil liberties and set up a harmful precedent. It’s in opposition to the hazards of emboldening censorious authorities actors that the dangers posed by TikTok have to be weighted.

Simply how a lot of a menace TikTok presents is an open query, which we received’t delve into right here. However let’s, for the sake of argument, assume that the Chinese language authorities do have, or might acquire, entry to data collected by TikTok on its American customers. The danger of that taking place ought to definitely give everybody some pause, however then once more the form of data on People held by TikTok data is already, and doubtless extra readily, out there to Chinese language authorities from different sources.

Take People who fly on Chinese language carriers, both to China or to a different nation altering planes in China. These carriers acquire People’ passport and bank card particulars earlier than issuing a ticket. Does anybody assume that, say, Air China wouldn’t, if ordered to by the CCP, hand over that data to a Chinese language safety company? The identical goes for People who place orders from Chinese language producers through Alibaba or who purchase instantly from Chinese language sites. Certainly, it’s fairly probably the CCP already has prepared entry to this data with out having to order anybody to present it to them, and even ask.

One might argue that the examples above contain People who willingly selected to have interaction with Chinese language entities, resembling Air China. But by now most People who learn about TikTok additionally learn about its ties to China. It’s laborious to argue that the voluntary use of TikTok is any completely different from shopping for an Air China ticket, inserting an order for footwear from a manufacturing facility in Fujian, or shopping for from a Chinese language-owned web site. Nobody forces the People in query to have interaction in any of those interactions, together with TikTok use.

The actual subject with TikTok is the dearth of reciprocity that permits it to be freely utilized in america, whereas a number of the hottest American social media apps and web sites aren’t legally or freely accessible in China. Reciprocity must be one of many bedrocks of worldwide relations, however it’s usually lacking from the equation in terms of China, largely as a result of China (for apparent causes) fully ignores this subject. What occurs with TikTok is however considered one of many examples. Evidently the true query People must be asking is, if Google, Fb and the New York Occasions can’t be freely accessed in China, why ought to TikTok be out there in america? Appears unfair. Convince us otherwise.