A New Push to Ban TikTok

US lawmakers have proposed legislation that could see popular video app TikTok banned in the country within six months unless its Chinese owner ByteDance divests from the platform. National security concerns over potential data access by the Chinese government have resurfaced. If passed, the bill would give ByteDance until November 2023 to sell off TikTok to a US company, after which a ban would take effect if ownership remains unchanged.

While TikTok has maintained its independence from Beijing, questions remain over its legal obligation to provide user data to Chinese authorities if requested under cybersecurity laws.

No such data requests have been confirmed, but the link between ByteDance and the Chinese government is clear. As the geopolitical rivalry between the US and China heats up, regulators argue this association poses unacceptable national security and privacy risks for American users.

However, others point out TikTok has long operated separately from its parent company and there is no evidence it has been leveraged so far by China. Banning the app could also provoke retaliation and damage other economic interests.

TikTok has also made progress in addressing these issues through initiatives like Project Texas, which would isolate US user data on domestic servers with third party oversight. For now, a ban is not certain, but this latest push in Congress suggests security concerns around TikTok's ownership will continue to be a hot button issue.

The proposed legislation comes amid wider efforts to limit Chinese influence in the US digital landscape. As geopolitical tensions rise, more restrictions targeting Chinese tech companies could well follow. For their part, platforms like TikTok face an ongoing challenge to convince regulators of their independence, even as linkages to their parent companies in China remain.

The outcome of this bill may have significant implications not just for the video app but for the future of US-China relations in the tech sector. Only time will tell if a ban ultimately results or if other solutions can maintain TikTok's operations in the country.

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