TikTok Ban Paves Way For Tech Geopolitics.


TikTok, a Chinese social media platform, is actively being pushed for banning by the United States of America due to concerns that it may be sharing citizen data with the Chinese government.

The US government would favor a forced sale of the platform if a ban was not feasible. China is adamantly opposed to selling the business since doing so may mean handing over tech secrets to a long-time foe. Bytedance, a Chinese tech startup, is the owner of TikTok.

Shou Zi Chew, the CEO of TikTok, was the subject of a protracted hearing on Thursday by a bipartisan committee in the US House. The objective was to determine the extent of TikTok’s possible threat to US consumers and determine whether a broad ban or a potential sale was more appropriate.

US congressmen declared they were unpersuaded by Chew’s evidence and assurances after the five hours of grilling and that they would vehemently advocate for a ban.

The co-sponsors of a plan that would give President Joe Biden more authority to control and penalize businesses with ties to China, Senators Mark Warner and John Thune, said pressmen afterwards that Chew’s testimony to the committee did not allay US national security worries about TikTok.

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy tweeted on Sunday, “The House will be moving forward with legislation to safeguard Americans from the electronic tentacles of the Chinese Communist Party.”

According to several analysts, the committee’s decision was already made before TikTok entered the room. A ban on TikTok is imminent, according to Gene Munster, managing partner of Deep-water Asset Management, which will be bad news for US stocks.

Tensions between China and the US are likely to rise as a result of the ban. On March 1, the North American nation required all employees of government agencies 30 days to remove TikTok from all federally owned devices and systems due to data security concerns.

The US Congress formally forbade the app on all devices used by the federal government in December 2022, which led to the White House directive.

It also adds a fresh perspective to the geopolitical context in which a nation obtains technological superiority. The use of technology in other nations would be severely impacted by a ban on TikTok.

TikTok’s expected to be blocked as soon as the world’s superpower pulls the plug for the US’s closest friends, such Canada and the UK. During a press appearance in Ottawa on March 24, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau informed Biden that his teenage children, Ella-Grace and Xavier, were prohibited from using TikTok. Since February 28, Canadian government employees are not permitted to use social media sites on company-issued devices due to privacy and security concerns.

In the first week of March, the app was also prohibited from being used on government-issued smartphones and gadgets in the UK. Because to the need for cybersecurity, the UK parliament resolved on March 23 to block TikTok from all parliamentary computers and the larger parliamentary network.

Experts have also stated that the US may be pursuing a vendetta against China, where many US websites are blocked, despite how compelling the desire to protect US individuals may be. China forbids the use of Google, Facebook, and YouTube. In China, WhatsApp has been restricted since 2017. Yet users can get around the restriction by utilizing a VPN.

LinkedIn shut down the Chinese local edition in 2021 as well, claiming difficulty in complying with regional data protection laws. InCareer, a local application, took its place.

Because the worldwide version was restricted, Zoom was forced to issue a local version in 2020. The local version allows for meeting participation but not meeting organization. To create meetings on the local site, premium subscribers must sign up.

Other technological advancements, including semiconductors and fifth-generation (5G) networks, are also impacted by the geopolitical conflict. The most frequently targeted company is Huawei from China, which has significant 5G deployment capabilities and poses a danger to numerous US businesses with comparable capabilities.  The company’s ban in the US has forced it to shift its focus to deploying its 5G infrastructure to Africa.

Because of their ties to the US, Nigeria and other African nations are unlikely to impose an embargo on Chinese businesses. China has committed the same amount of resources to the continent’s development as the US has. Due to their inability to repay the loans, many African nations are so indebted to China that the Asian superpower has had to seize some of their national assets.

Despite the connection, website bans do occur on the continent, frequently to silence critics of a particular government policy or misbehavior.

Nigerians had a Twitter blackout from the middle of 2021 to the beginning of 2022 as a result of the government’s unpopular decision to outlaw the social media platform after it removed a tweet from the President that violated its policy..

African nations have the option to outlaw TikTok, but they haven’t done so because they don’t consider the video-sharing app to be dangerous, according to Gbenga Sesan, director of the digital rights organization Paradigm Initiative.

Sesan claimed that people “still view TikTok as a place where young people go to have fun.” There are problems when security is used as a justification to shut down platforms that certain countries believe to be active places where they believe the only remaining civic space to be.

Since 2016, the Paradigm Initiative has been keeping track of internet outages throughout Africa, and it has found that at least five of those nations disable their internet access annually.

African nations are avoiding TikTok politics, but the US Congress is about to discuss a variety of proposals, including one that is bipartisan and would allow the government to outlaw the app.

The US Commerce Department would be required by the Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology Act to assess and reduce any risks posed by technology that is connected to nations that the US is at odds with, such as China, North Korea, Iran, Russia, Cuba, and Venezuela.