TikTok had risen to become an international sensation in no time after being launched by Chinese company, ByteDance. Just how meteoric the success was, it has pivoted into a catastrophic downfall as TikTok’s legal issues seem to be an endless pit of problems. With more countries adding to the infamous TikTok ban, regulators and governments across the world are concerned about the data privacy risks associated with the app.
The internet is a scary place to be. Almost all social media applications can unwittingly collect your data (you give them permission too!), without which the app doesn’t function. But what can the collected data do? Will privacy always wage a war against the internet?
TikTok Ban: Why Are There Data Privacy Concerns?
The app’s algorithm, which suggests personalized content to users based on their interests, played a significant role in TikTok’s success. As more users joined the platform and shared creative and entertaining videos, TikTok’s popularity soared.
One of the primary concerns surrounding TikTok is the handling of user data. Critics argue that TikTok collects vast amounts of personal information from its users, including their location, browsing history, and even facial recognition data. This data collection has raised concerns about how the information is used and protected.
TikTok’s chief Shou Zi Chew has repeatedly stated that it stores user data on servers located outside of China and that it has implemented strict security measures to safeguard user privacy. However, skeptics remain unconvinced, citing the app’s ties to China and its potential for data misuse.
In addition to data privacy concerns, TikTok has faced accusations of posing national security threats. Some governments worry that the app’s Chinese ownership could allow the Chinese government to access sensitive user data and use it for nefarious purposes.
The fear of foreign influence and espionage has prompted several countries to take action against TikTok, citing national security as a primary reason. These concerns have led to government actions and strict regulations on the app’s usage.
United States’ TikTok Ban
The United States has been at the forefront of the TikTok ban controversy. In August 2020, the US administration issued an executive order that would effectively ban TikTok in the country unless it was sold to an American company. This order was based on concerns about national security and the potential for data collection by the Chinese government.
The ban faced legal challenges and injunctions, but the US administration persisted in its efforts to restrict TikTok’s operations in the United States. Ultimately, a deal was reached in which a consortium of American companies, including Oracle and Walmart, would acquire a stake in TikTok’s US operations.
India’s TikTok Ban
India, with its massive user base, was one of TikTok’s largest markets. However, in June 2020, the Indian government banned TikTok and several other Chinese apps, citing data privacy and national security concerns. The ban came in the wake of escalating conflicts between India and China. The Indian government’s ban dealt a significant blow to TikTok, as it lost access to millions of users overnight. This move also sparked similar actions by other countries wary of TikTok’s potential risks.
Following the lead of the United States and India, several other countries have taken action against TikTok. Australia, Japan, and several European countries have either banned or imposed restrictions on the app. These countries cite concerns over data privacy, national security, and foreign influence as reasons for their actions.
TikTok Controversy: Lawsuits and Legal Challenges
The TikTok ban has resulted in numerous lawsuits and legal challenges. TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance, have fought legal battles to overturn bans and restrictions in various countries. These legal proceedings have centered around issues of data privacy, national security, and freedom of speech.
Courts have grappled with the complex legal landscape surrounding TikTok, weighing concerns over user privacy and national security against the rights of individuals and the rights of companies to operate freely.
TikTok has made efforts to address concerns over data privacy and security. The company has introduced transparency measures, such as publishing transparency reports and opening a transparency center, to demonstrate its commitment to user privacy. The company has also taken steps to distance itself from its Chinese roots. TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, has explored options such as selling a stake in TikTok’s operations to American companies to alleviate concerns over data security.
TikTok has also implemented stricter compliance measures, including enhanced data protection and storage practices. The company has partnered with third-party organizations to conduct audits and reviews of its data-handling processes.
TikTok’s Legal Issues Pushed The App Away From Creators
With the TikTok ban enforced in various countries, content creators have had to adapt and find new platforms to continue sharing their content. Some creators have migrated to other social media platforms, such as Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts, which have sought to capitalize on TikTok’s absence by offering similar video-sharing features.
Content creators face the challenge of rebuilding their audiences on new platforms and adjusting to different algorithms and user demographics. This transition has presented both opportunities and challenges for creators looking to expand their reach beyond TikTok.
As users and regulators navigate these challenges, it is clear that the controversy surrounding TikTok will continue to evolve, impacting the social media landscape and raising important questions about privacy, security, and freedom of expression.