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Since when was TikTok a national security threat?

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zaq

Jul 15, 2020, 16:31

The popular video-sharing app, TikTok, has become the Trump administration's new punchbag in its anti-China policy. Americans are advised only to download the fun app if they want their private information "in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party", says Mike Pompeo. White House adviser Peter Navarro has even accused it of engaging in "information warfare" against the U.S., indicating that the president is "just getting started" by considering banning it, together with the popular messaging app WeChat.

So, what exactly is the information that TikTok is collecting? According to the company's privacy policy, users registering or uploading content to the platform are asked to provide their name, age, email or phone number, payment information, and their contacts if they want to connect to other users through their phone or social media contacts. It also automatically collects users' IP addresses, location, device information amongst other things. But that's the same as almost all social media platforms, including Google and Facebook.

As a young and fast-developing tech company, TikTok does sometimes have to grapple with security vulnerabilities, but coding flaws are almost unavoidable in any app and it's too far-fetched to link them to national security threats. In January, Cybersecurity Company Check Point said in a report, that it had found several security flaws in TikTok which potentially allowed hackers to take control of the accounts and manipulate content. But the problems were quickly fixed when they were raised, and according to Oded Vanunu, the lead researcher on Check Point's report, TikTok "were very happy to get this kind of information and were happy to cooperate."

TikTok's biggest vulnerability, from Washington's perspective, seems to be its link to China, as it is owned by the Chinese tech company ByteDance, which is headquartered in Beijing. TikTok has made it clear that it stores American user data in the U.S. with backups in Singapore, and that it has never provided user data to the Chinese government and wouldn't do so even if asked. 

In common with other social media companies, TikTok follows the local rules of the countries where they operate. According to TikTok's latest transparency report, the company received 500 government requests for data during the second half of 2019, among which 302 were made by India and 100 were made by the United States. The report says it didn't receive any user information or content removal requests from China. But that doesn't seem to dispel Washington's mistrust, with Peter Navarro saying it wouldn't help even if TikTok was separated off as an American company.

The Committee on Foreign Investment launched a national security review of ByteDance late last year after its one-billion-U.S.-dollars acquisition of the U.S. social media app Musical.ly which was completed in 2017. And the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department are probing whether TikTok has failed to meet its obligation to protect children's privacy under a previous agreement. 

But up until now, there has been no concrete evidence showing that TikTok poses any threat to U.S. national security, which makes TikTok look simply just like another scapegoat of the China-U.S. rivalry.

Washington has taken a similar approach to Huawei, banning it citing national security concerns and asking other countries to do the same without providing any evidence. It seems there's a presumption from the Trump administration that any Chinese company popular in the U.S. will threaten its national security and it is doing all it can to find a way to back up that argument. 

It is looking at China through ideological lenses which is leading to serious misconceptions about China's intentions. A White House report released in May said that for decades, the U.S. has hoped that China would become closer to the U.S. model through deepening engagement of the two nations, but that hasn't happened. FBI Director Christopher Wray claimed in a recent speech that China was "the greatest long-term threat to our nation's information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality." 

The U.S. is assuming that China would become an opponent or even an enemy as it becomes more powerful. But as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi pointed out, "aggression and expansion have never been in the genes of the Chinese nation throughout its 5,000 years of history." 

More importantly, the environment for ideological confrontation between capitalism and socialism no longer exists as countries today have intertwined interests in trade, finance, fighting terrorism and dealing with all kinds of unconventional challenges like the coronavirus pandemic. It is not in China's interest to take on the U.S. as an enemy, nor will it ask TikTok to provide its user data or force Huawei to spy, because that would kill the country's leading tech companies.

Using a Cold War mentality to handle international relations today is like treating a healthy person with cancer therapy. A technological decoupling between the U.S. and China will hurt both countries and undermine innovation. Domestic companies should try to win in the marketplace by upgrading their products, not through protectionist policies imposed by the government. Shutting its doors to foreign tech companies would harm America's reputation as a global innovation center.

After all, TikTok is just a fun video-sharing platform. Its focus is on sharing creative short videos like dancing and lip-syncing. Does the Trump administration really want to deprive American youngsters of the right to have fun?

6 530
gork

They're Gangsters!

They even put Smithfield pork producers through the CFIUS process, where they extract bribes. How can a pork exporter be a security threat?

When Paul Craig-Roberts points out the Great Satan and poodle are "gangster-run" and John Pilger points out they're "criminal states" it's not hyperbole, it's not exaggeration, it's not even intended as an insult. it's just honest commentary. A blonde woman with an amerikan accent appeared on the jewish-controlled, state-run BBC's heavily-controlled, Question Time, propaganda programme and as the closing credits started to roll, she stood up and shouted out that the gangster-run, thieved prison-state of Amerika is the most evil nation on the planet. This caused uproard amongst Poodleville's goons & thugs as they thought they held the title.

12dream

It is about attempting by all means, bad and evil mixture, to contain China via soft power and diplomatic politics worldwide.  The USA is gaining certain footholds through its allies namely the 5-EYE nations.  

In its invasive attempts mounted by heinous and wicked guys like Pomp fat asshole, all Chinese Apps downloaded by young and old yankees will be banned or forced to stop in the USA.

The other reason for it to do so is to prevent American folks from hearing and reading about the actualities of all events happening inside China and Chinese news reports. Alas, that is the so-called American democracy and human rights which are truly disgraceful in real practice ! 

No wonder BLM is fiercely challenging their rights and freedom in the USA and 5-EYE nations, mainly. As printed by fired John, asshole Pomp wrote " Trump is just full of shits " which goes well to fill up the hole and gap of such mischievous civilization and bad cultivation in them all. Unfortunately, there is no medicine nor vaccine to cure this sort of mental illnesses or mental disorientation in effect. 

Having said so, Chinese companies and folks rushing to the USA or Wall Street for listing or IPO(s) ought to realize the super high risks of doing businesses in the USA where there is no such gift as long term security or business survival guarantee.  


emanreus
Liononthehunt post time: 2020-07-15 21:59

Not to worry,

Twitter they are well and truly afraid off right now...

GhostBuster

Tik Tok was A NATIONAL SECURITY RISK because the mouse went down the clock!



GhostBuster

US President Donald John Trump has clear serious signs of being mentally astable!


Liononthehunt

It has nothing to do with ideology, it's the US doing for all it's worth to maintain the hegemony that prompts the move to cause schtook for TikTok.