In a short period of time, TikTok has become “the scariest social network in the world”. Why does China’s application face such fierce resistance?
On November 7, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News that the administration of President Donald Trump is considering banning TikTok. Prior to this, the Indian government also closed TikTok and dozens of other Chinese apps to the South Asian market with a population of 1.35 billion.
For security reasons, Wells Fargo recently asked employees to remove TikTok from work calls. But then Amazon announced that the guide was just a mistake.
Unlike the Cambridge Analytica or Yahoo scandal, the United States boycotted TikTok for a variety of reasons. In the most recent scandal, TikTok was discovered to secretly access the clipboard data on the user’s mobile phone. However, there are more than 50 other applications, such as LinkedI or the New York Times application, that are doing the same thing.
The only unique thing about TikTok is that it originated in China. TikTok operates in the United States, the CEO is an American, but the owner is a ByteDance company headquartered in China. A lot of anxiety comes from the question of how much TikTok activity is controlled by ByteDance.
Like Huawei, the US government is very worried about TikTok serving China’s espionage activities.
As far as TikTok is concerned, it emphasizes that the company is headquartered in the United States. “TikTok is also led by an American CEO with hundreds of employees, who is the main leader in American safety, security, products, and public policy,” the Chinese company said.
“We never provide user data to the Chinese government. Even if the Chinese government requests it, we will not provide it,” TikTok emphasized.
However, even if TikTok did not do anything unusual, the application became more dangerous for the United States and the West due to its political ties with the Chinese government.
Experts explained that through TikTok’s data collection behavior, Chinese intelligence can use this social network as a portal to track specific users and collect information.
Therefore, TikTok may become a big risk for American giants such as Amazon or Wells Fargo because they have technology that China may want to steal.
There is only one way to cut it
And as long as the Beijing government exerts pressure on TikTok through its parent company in China, the country’s intelligence services will have a way to quietly monitor users. So for the United States and the West, TikTok users cannot be safe.
In April of this year, Zoom was discovered to redirect overseas calls to servers in China. This behavior is much more serious than the TikTok scandal. Equifax lost the data of more than 100 million people. They certainly provide more information than TikTok collects. However, these are still Western institutions.
The US government suspects that TikTok is cooperating with Chinese intelligence agencies. So the desperate guarantees of this company always cause anxiety. In the past, TikTok has always claimed that the company is completely independent of its Chinese boss.
But one thing is undeniable. TikTok’s only way to dispel all doubts is to cut the Chinese company from its parent company Bytedance. The U.S. government can do this through the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment.
If this method is adopted by the United States, it will have a huge impact, not only for TikTok. The WeChat app is mainly used in China, but has more than 1 million users in the United States. Many of them are immigrants who want to contact relatives in China.
WeChat is accused of regularly tracking users outside the United States and censoring sensitive topics. If it is aggressive, the Washington government can even remove a series of Chinese applications from the U.S. market, preventing Chinese investment funds from flowing into U.S. companies. According to The Verge, China actually did the same thing to American companies.