The ban on TikTok makes no sense. These things make no sense.

President Trump issued an Executive order to ban TikTok. This order specifically names TikTok, and claims their collection of user data is the reason.

TikTok may be bad. But if the objection to TikTok were really about privacy, why wouldn’t the US pass privacy legislation, ala Europe’s GDPR?

The answers are, Congress takes time to move, and even something obviously beneficial for all Americans would probably get tanked in the Senate. Executive orders are a heckuva way to create a mandate with force of law, but here we are.

This makes no sense, because it won’t actually accomplish making Americans safer like it claims to.

The order says a few things: First of all, anyone that tries to circumvent the order is in violation of the order. So that article talking about VPNs? Don’t do that.

Sec. 2.  (a)  Any transaction by a United States person or within the United States that evades or avoids, has the purpose of evading or avoiding, causes a violation of, or attempts to violate the prohibition set forth in this order is prohibited.

Executive Order on Addressing the Threat Posed by TikTok

So what’s it actually say?

It says 45 days after this order, any transactions with TikTok are banned.It’s up to the Secretary of State to identify ‘transactions’.

And that doesn’t even begin to address the 1st amendment issues involved – TikTok provides tools for self-expression and communication.

The President didn’t stop there and, as mentioned above, issued a separate order for WeChat.

WeChat is an app that may as well be a platform: it’s a chat app, a social network, a payments system, and more. Without it, it’s going to be difficult for families and businesses to communicate.

 The order states “any transaction that is related to WeChat by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, with Tencent Holdings Ltd. (a.k.a. Téngxùn Kònggǔ Yǒuxiàn Gōngsī), Shenzhen, China, or any subsidiary of that entity, as identified by the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) under section 1(c) of this order.”

Tencent has interests in a lot of different companies

  • Full ownership of Riot Games
  • 40% ownership of American developers Epic Games, the developer of popular online game Fortnite
  • 10% ownership of Spotify.
  • Agreements with UMG and Sony music

The White House clarified to Sam Dean that it applies only to WeChat transactions, but this is still pretty sweeping.

And, it’s not really certain to be very effective anyway. If the goal is to keep US data out of Chinese hands, there’s a lot more work to be done to dismantle ad networks that pass data globally, as illustrated by Shoshana Wodinsky.

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