Might TikTok come below US Authorities scrutiny as soon as once more, and face one other potential ban within the area?

As you will recall, final July, then US President Donald Trump pushed for a ban on the app, social gathering on account of considerations across the potential use of TikTok information for surveillance functions, on account of implied reference to the Chinese language Authorities, and partly, Trump stated, in retaliation against China for the unfold of COVID-19.

Efforts to ban TikTok had been repeatedly stalled by authorized challenges, earlier than ultimately being abandoned by the brand new US administration – although not with out noting that it might be trying to re-assess the app, and its data-gathering potential, at some stage.

In the present day, the US Authorities announced an growth of the Trump administration’s ruling to ban US investments in Chinese language firms, based mostly on “the threat posed by the military-industrial complicated of the Individuals’s Republic of China (PRC)”.

As per the White House:

“President Biden [has] expanded the scope of this nationwide emergency by discovering that the usage of Chinese language surveillance know-how outdoors the PRC, in addition to the event or use of Chinese language surveillance know-how to facilitate repression or critical human rights abuses, represent uncommon and extraordinary threats.

That can see the US Authorities shifting to limit US funding and dealings with 59 Chinese language-based entities, together with Huawei, China Telecom Company, Greatwall, and extra.

To be clear, neither TikTok nor dad or mum firm ByteDance are included within the list of impacted entities. However the expanded transfer to limit dealings with Chinese language firms, based mostly on potential surveillance exercise, may level to additional scrutiny – notably contemplating that TikTok just lately added a new provision into its privacy policy which is able to enable it to gather consumer “biometric identifiers and biometric info”, together with “faceprints and voiceprints”, through the app.

That might open up recent considerations in regards to the platform – the principle sticking level being that below China’s cybersecurity law, any Chinese language-owned firm is technically required to produce all consumer info to the CCP, on request, if such a request is submitted. Now we have no perception, after all, as as to if any such request has ever, or will ever be put to TikTok or ByteDance, however the firm has repeatedly reassured users that their information is protected, and that TikTok consumer info is saved outdoors of China and never accessible by the CCP.

However the concern stays, and with TikTok seemingly shifting to collect up extra consumer insights, and the US Authorities scrutinizing comparable parts, it looks as if the 2 may very well be shifting in the direction of one other conflict. 

However then once more, “biometric identifiers and biometric info” are literally gathered by different social apps too. YouTube, seemingly, collects similar data, and Fb has confronted authorized challenges up to now over its biometric data harvesting. So whereas it sounds unhealthy, notably given TikTok’s potential CCP linkage, it is probably not as vital an replace because it appears, up-front.

However it’ll seemingly be sufficient to get a number of extra Congress-folk trying its method as soon as once more, and if tensions proceed to escalate between China and the US, with China prone to reply, indirectly, to this newest spherical of restrictions, that might put TikTok below the highlight as soon as once more.

Which may spark new discussions a few attainable ban, or a attainable sell-off, with Oracle and Microsoft possibly as soon as once more placing forth their bids.

It is nonetheless too early to foretell the place any such actions may lead, however it’s price monitoring the state of affairs, and the potential impacts for the world’s fastest-growing social app.