TikTok is undoubtedly incredibly entertaining and addictive to some people. The popularity of this video-sharing app has been growing since its introduction. But, the Trump administration sees it as a threat to the U.S national security. This prompted the United States to propose a ban for the app in the U.S.
At the beginning of August, executive orders issued by President Trump would effectively ban this video-sharing app from the United States. The Commerce Department, while citing these orders, said it would bar TikTok from the app stores in the U.S. This includes the stores run by Google and Apple. Currently, over 120 million people use TikTok in America. Statistics reveal that up to 32.5% of TikTok users in the United States are teens.
A move to ban TikTok would mean that the app will no longer be available in the U.S. The app would also be unavailable in the app stores. However, a federal judge, Carl Nicholas, issued an injunction that prevented the Trump administration from banning this video app from the U.S and app stores.
Why Consider Banning TikTok in the U.S?
According to the Trump administration, TikTok possess some threats to national security. That’s because the Chinese-owned, video-sharing app could be used to collect the private data of users. The app could also be used to force some users to give the Chinese government some information unwillingly.
According to an official from the Justice Department, Daniel Schwei, suggesting a TikTok ban was a response to the fears that this video-sharing app may be used to send important data to Beijing authorities. That’s because the app is owned by Byte Dance, a Chinese company. Daniel added that the ban does not implicate the First Amendment rights of TikTok.
Consequently, the U.S government suggested a ban on TikTok across its borders. That means new TikTok downloads would no longer be possible if the ban were to take effect. However, the federal judge postponed the supposed ban until September 27th. And, this date will most likely be extended.
What the Injunction Means
This injunction means that the ban elements that were to become effective almost immediately have been halted. Thus, TikTok won’t be forced off the app stores that are run by tech companies like Google and Apple. However, this injunction doesn’t cover larger restrictions that are likely to become effective this November.
If the injunction wasn’t issued, the app would no longer be available in the app stores. This means new users would have difficulties trying to download the app on mobile devices. What’s more, TikTok would no longer push bug fixes and updates to the app through these stores. Consequently, the ability of the app to expand its user base and enhance user experience would have been damaged in the United States.
TikTok’s Stance Regarding the Ban
According to TikTok’s lawyers, banning the app before the U.S election and when people are facing increased isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic is an impingement to the potential users’ rights to share opinions. The video-sharing app sought a preliminary injunction to halt this ban temporarily.
According to John Hall, a TikTok’s lawyer, banning the app would amount to locking doors and preventing people from accessing a public forum. TikTok was pleased by the decision of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to agree with the app’s legal arguments. TikTok’s spokesman said that the app will continue to defend its rights to benefit the employees of the company and the community.
What’s more, the spokesperson said that the management of the video-sharing app will continue to dialogue with the U.S government. Thus, TikTok users in America will most likely continue to use the app if the government and TikTok reach an agreement.
What a TikTok Ban Would Mean
A TikTok ban would mean business devastation. TikTok executives said that the growth of this company has increased rapidly over the past years. The app has been downloaded over 2 billion times. That means more people are starting to use the app.
Unfortunately, advertisers have stopped their campaigns on TikTok since the Trump administration started pushing for its ban. And, this has also dented the revenue of this company. Things will get worse if the Trump administration succeeds to have TikTok banned from the U.S.
Avoiding a TikTok Ban
If the Trump administration succeeds in having TikTok banned in America, it means companies like Apple and Google will have to remove the app from their stores. This would make it hard for new app users to download it. What’s more, the app would have operational difficulties for the current users. But, a TikTok ban can be avoided.
So far, TikTok is having talks with other companies trying to strike a favorable deal and defuse concerns about national security. For instance, TikTok reached an agreement with Walmart and Oracle to come up with a new entity. The company would be called TikTok Global with 20% of stakes jointly owned by the American companies. Initially, 80% of the company’s stake would be owned by Byte Dance. However, the companies are yet to disclose how they will address concerns about national security.
Nevertheless, this deal might help TikTok avoid a ban because Trump gave it his preliminary blessing. However, the involved companies have disagreed over the amount that the American entities will own on TikTok Global. Consequently, Trump said that he may disapprove of the deal if TikTok won’t be controlled by Oracle.
On the other hand, the Chinese government has termed the TikTok deal as unfair and dirty saying that it’s based on extortion and bullying. Consequently, Beijing might disrupt any deal. These sentiments arise from the claims that the company had put extraordinary efforts in its attempt to meet the ever-shifting demands by the government and the purported concerns about national security.
The Bottom Line
It’s unlikely that TikTok will be banned from the U.S. That’s because the move would affect companies that run the major app stores like Google and Apple. And, such companies will most likely challenge the ban in court or compromise with the government.
Hypothetically, Byte Dance could inject a code into this video-sharing app, thereby proving harmful to national security. However, app stores review apps for malicious codes. Thus, it’s difficult for TikTok to mount an attack and go undetected.
Additionally, banning the app might not help because users that have already downloaded it will most likely not uninstall it from their devices. What’s more, TikTok will avoid the ban if it successfully enters a deal with U.S companies like Walmart and Oracle.