Why does the US want to ban TikTok?

If you’ve seen the news, you’ll know that TikTok is banned from US government devices. You’re likely wondering “Why does the US want to ban TikTok” and “What does it mean for your TikTok business accounts?” Today, we’ll dive into the reasons for the proposed ban. Plus, we’ll discuss what might happen to the UK if it becomes law in the USA.

Is there a TikTok ban in the US?

There is in a way. On April 24th, 2024, President Joe Biden signed a law that would ban TikTok in the USA. It forces them to sell their US operations to a new parent company. While that is currently being contested by TikTok as unconstitutional, “prior to the law’s signing, a slew of TikTok bans across the US barred the app from devices tied to universities and government hardware at the state, local, and federal levels,” reports The Verge. So, for a lot of people in the USA, TikTok is already inaccessible in many ways.

Why does the US want to ban TikTok?

In short? Because of concerns over espionage by the Chinese government. This is under their own strict national security laws (to which the TikTok parent company ByteDance is subject). TikTok of course denies that these concerns are valid. But, according to The Guardian, “Christopher Wray, the director of the FBI, the US domestic intelligence and security agency, has said that ByteDance is “controlled by the Chinese government” and has warned that Beijing authorities can influence people by manipulating the algorithm that curates what people view on TikTok, as well as allowing the government to collect user data for “traditional espionage operations”.”

Is the threat legitimate?

The BBC argues it’s a “theoretical risk. Critics argue TikTok is a “Trojan horse” – although it looks harmless, it could prove to be a powerful weapon during times of conflict, for example. The app is already banned in India, which took action in 2020 against the app and dozens of other Chinese platforms. But a US ban on TikTok could have a huge impact on the platform, since typically US allies often fall in step with such decisions.” The data it collects is similar to the data all apps collect. And the rules it has to follow are similar to those impacting tech firms in all developed countries. But there’s already a mistrust between the US and China. (Chinese citizens already cannot use US apps.)

Is there a TikTok ban in Europe?

Not yet and Politico suggests that is unlikely. There are already measures in place to reduce security concerns. And “last year, the European Commission banned TikTok from officials’ phones, as did a wide array of EU member countries such as Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden, Finland and Ireland.” And the BBC explains “The UK government has already banned TikTok on government devices due to cybersecurity concerns, but there is nothing to suggest that the UK will follow America in exploring a total ban.”

What’s the impact of a TikTok ban?

A TikTok ban will impact UK businesses with a substantial US consumer base and an active TikTok sales pipeline. Several UK brands on TikTok have told the BBC about large surges of US customers they get from TikTok content and while sometimes this success can be replicated on other social media channels, the impact is far from the same. A total ban in the US would have a direct impact on the UK economy as a result, as these businesses would lose between 30-70% of their traffic overnight.

Would a TikTok ban impact your business? There are potential security implications. If you’re not sure how to keep your business safe, let us help you.