Concerns about the security of Tiktok are not new. For some time now, users and government bodies alike have raised concerns about how secure TikTok is, and how the social media platform handles data in China (where its parent company is headquartered).
But new US legislation seeks to act on these security concerns. Bill is currently working through the US government to explore a ban on TikTok on devices in the country—starting with government devices. Here’s everything you need to know.
New US law bans TikTok from government equipment
On 14 December 2022, the US Senate voted unanimously to pass the No TikTok on Government Equipment Act. The new law seeks to ban TikTok from being allowed on any equipment owned by federal agencies. For example, FBI agents would not be allowed to download TikTok on bureau-issued smartphones.
The act allows for exceptions, such as for security research on social media apps, but these must first be approved. This comes amid many concerns that TikTok is dangerous for security and privacy. While the new law sounds scary, it is yet to become law.
Without going too deep into US politics, the legislation would first need to be voted on for approval in the House of Representatives. If voted to pass, it will go to President Biden for final approval. However, this did not stop some US states from taking quick action.
Several states have already independently passed laws to ban TikTok on government-owned devices. States including Texas, Utah and Alabama have passed statewide legislation to impose partial bans. But how far can it go?
Could the US ban TikTok more widely?
It’s currently unclear whether or not the President will approve TikTok over the Government Tools Act, but that’s the end of it, right? OK, not at all. Another legislation is currently moving through Congress that would result in a complete ban on TikTok in the US.
Dubbed the ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act (which stands for Internet Surveillance, Anti-Censorship and Influence, and Averting the National Threat of Algorithmic Learning by the Chinese Communist Party Act), the law originated from China, Russia, Cuba Tries to ban social apps. , Iran, North Korea, or Venezuela.
The act focuses less on TikTok, but rather on social apps as a whole, including some of the top social media platforms. Its purpose is to guard against security threats potentially posed by such apps. However, to the same extent, the more general focus makes this a piece of legislation that is much less likely to be approved.
Such actions would have profound political ramifications against the affected countries, and lead to major changes in the way Americans use their smartphones. The Act is yet to be voted on until 16 December 2022, so it is unclear what will happen for sure.
If America bans Tiktok, what could be its effect?
While it currently appears unlikely that the US will move toward this TikTok ban (and all other affected apps), it remains a possibility at present. So, what could be the impact of a US-wide ban on TikTok?
One of the reasons why TikTok is bad for you is that it is bad for your brain. Studies have shown that it reduces attention span due to copious amounts of time spent on apps. Surely a ban can be beneficial in this regard? Not necessarily.
Should TikTok become unavailable, a large number of users could suddenly find themselves unsure what to do with their time. This begs the question of which apps users can turn to, which can be somewhat of a problem.
It also raises the question of how effective the ban will be. Users will likely still be able to access TikTok via VPN or sideloading, but would the US want to deny it? Or will there be a provision of punishment for those who violate the rules? Clearly, there’s still a lot to figure out if a ban should ever go through.
TikTok users in the US don’t need to worry about a ban for now
It appears unlikely that the US government will proceed with the Anti-Social CCP Act, and indeed a US-wide TikTok ban. Such a ban would have wide-ranging implications, and is still in its early stages of existence—nowhere close to approval. However, those in government will face restrictions on federally owned equipment.
Since amid all this talk of a ban, TikTok users can still use the app in the US, so it’s best to act according to the app’s rules. After all, you wouldn’t want to get banned from the app.