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.
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.
Trump’s executive orders against WeChat and TikTok are yet another abuse of emergency powers under the broad guise of national security. They would violate the First Amendment rights of users in the US who use these apps to communicate with family, friends, or business contacts.— ACLU (@ACLU) August 7, 2020
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.
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.
Video game companies owned by Tencent will NOT be affected by this executive order!— Sam Dean 🦅 (@SamAugustDean) August 7, 2020
White House official confirmed to the LA Times that the EO only blocks transactions related to WeChat
So Riot Games (League of Legends), Epic Games (Fortnite), et al are safe
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.