A TikTok Ban Appears To Be Very Likely In The US

I’ve been saying for a while that given the fact that TikTok hasn’t really done anything to take the fact that it is Chinese owned and the Chinese Communist Party exerts influence in how it operates, it should be banned. It now appears that a ban is coming in the US. There’s a bill that is making its way through the Senate that has White House backing called the RESTRICT act:

The legislation would empower the Commerce Department to review deals, software updates or data transfers by information and communications technology in which a foreign adversary has an interest. TikTok, which has become a viral sensation in the U.S. by allowing kids to create and share short videos, is owned by Chinese internet giant ByteDance.

Under the new proposal, if the Commerce secretary determines that a transaction poses “undue or unacceptable risk” to U.S. national security, it can be referred to the president for action, up to and including forced divestment.

The bill was dubbed the RESTRICT Act, which stands for Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology.

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, formally unveiled the legislation on Capitol Hill alongside a bipartisan group of Senate co-sponsors. The White House issued a statement publicly endorsing the bill while Warner was briefing reporters.

“This bill presents a systematic framework for addressing technology-based threats to the security and safety of Americans,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement, adding that it would give the government new tools to mitigate national security risks in the tech sector.

Sullivan urged Congress “to act quickly to send the bill to the President’s desk.”

“Critically, it would strengthen our ability to address discrete risks posed by individual transactions, and systemic risks posed by certain classes of transactions involving countries of concern in sensitive technology sectors,” said Sullivan.

A TikTok spokeswoman did not respond Tuesday to CNBC’s request for comment.

TikTok has to be freaking right now as a ban in the US would likely create a domino effect of other countries banning TikTok. So one has to wonder how TikTok will respond to this as if they lose in the US, they lose everywhere.

This should be interesting to watch.

UPDATE: Kevin Bocek, VP Ecosystem and Community at Venafi had this comment:

The recently introduced RESTRICT Act would establish new, broad powers for the US Government to target possible threats to national security, personal privacy, and competitive threats. This goes well beyond a TikTok ban. It could change everything, from the phones in our pockets, to who gets to use emerging AI. And it brings back memories of the Encryption Wars of the 1990s when governments sought to control encryption technologies that we take for granted with bans and backdoors.

We’re now at a serious point in time, where the technologies in our pockets, homes, streets, businesses, airports and beyond can be used as part of kinetic warfare. And the RESTRICT Act targets the issues that we must face in the West.

Governments are finally waking up to the fact that adversaries don’t just use missiles and tanks – but instead, they take advantage of modern-day technology, controlled by machines connecting to the Internet. The worrying reality is that this technology can be monitored and controlled. For example, cranes built in China that offload containers from ships can not only be monitored but also potentially hijacked to create chaos and damage. Likewise, technologies from generative AI, to the graphic cards that make machine learning happen, are available globally and can be abused by adversaries.

The potential impact of the RESTRICT Act isn’t just a ban on TikTok. It’s the opening to what’s likely to be a decades long technology Cold War. One where the machines and software they run – which powers economies and innovation – will become a battleground for governments looking to stop adversaries in the AI, always-connected, and cloud computing driven age.

6 Responses to “A TikTok Ban Appears To Be Very Likely In The US”

  1. […] bad news for TikTok continues to pile up. Hot on the heels of a likely ban in the US, comes news that the city of Hamilton Ontario which is just west of Toronto is going not only ban […]

  2. […] It’s now getting to the point where I am wondering who is next to ban TikTok. Clearly there is momentum building around the world to get TikTok off of government phones. Thus you have to wonder when and not if that’s going to spread to everyone else. Perhaps that could happen as soon as the RESTRICT act is passed in the US? […]

  3. […] this point, nothing the company says is going to make lawmakers on Capitol Hill feel different and a ban via the RESTRICT act is likely. And that ban is likely to be copied by other countries which means that TikTok could […]

  4. […] continue. And likely expand to outright bans where TikTok will be erased from phones everywhere. Such as the one that seems to be coming in the US. So as a result of that, I expect these bans to continue to accelerate and […]

  5. […] with access to some sort of government network. But the stakes are about to go up for TikTok as the US is looking to ban the social media app outright. If that were to happen, how would such a ban be implemented? I have some thoughts on how that […]

  6. […] I have to ask the question, is this really a backup plan? I ask because I’ve written about the RESTRICT act which if passed would give the US the ability to ban apps like TikTok. The […]

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