A recent poll by the Washington Post found that 41 percent of Americans support the federal government banning TikTok, a video-sharing app.
There are growing concerns among policymakers and the general public in the United States about the safety and security of user data on TikTok. This is due to the fact that TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, is based in China, and there are concerns that the Chinese government may have access to user data collected by the app.
There have been several high-profile incidents in which TikTok has been accused of mishandling user data or violating user privacy. For example, in 2019, TikTok was fined $5.7 million by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for illegally collecting data on children under the age of 13.
As a result, there is a growing call for the US government to take action to protect American users’ data and privacy. The possibility of a ban on TikTok has been widely discussed in Congress, and some lawmakers have even proposed legislation to ban the app.
According to a recent Washington Post poll, only 25 percent of Americans oppose a potential TikTok ban, while 34 percent say they’re not sure. This suggests that there is significant public support for action to be taken to address these concerns about user safety and data security.
Those who have used TikTok in the last month and daily TikTok users are less likely to support a ban. This includes 21 percent of people who have used TikTok in the last month and 17 percent of daily users.
Many Americans are concerned that TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, is based in China. Nearly three-quarters of respondents (71 percent) are concerned that the Chinese government could access American user data. This includes 36 percent who are “very” concerned and 35 percent who are “somewhat” concerned. Only nine percent are “not at all” concerned, and 20 percent say they’re “not too” concerned.
According to the poll, 65 percent of Americans believe that TikTok is “collecting personal data on Americans for the Chinese government,” and 56 percent believe the app is “letting the Chinese government control content U.S. users see on TikTok.” Due to these concerns, the app has already been banned from government phones, and Congress is considering a potential federal ban.
The issue of TikTok and its ties to the Chinese government has been a subject of concern for both Democrats and Republicans in the United States. However, some Republicans have been particularly critical of the Biden administration for not taking stronger action against TikTok.
Last week, the Biden administration announced that it would ban TikTok in the United States if ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, does not sell its stake to an American company. This move was seen as a response to concerns that the Chinese government could access American user data through TikTok.
Some Republicans have criticized the administration for not taking a tougher stance on TikTok and accused them of not doing enough to protect American national security interests. They argue that a ban is necessary to prevent the Chinese government from potentially accessing sensitive information about Americans.
However, others have cautioned against a complete ban, arguing that it could harm the millions of Americans who use the app for entertainment and creative expression. There are also concerns about the impact that a ban could have on American companies that rely on TikTok for advertising and marketing purposes.
The poll also found that 73 percent of Americans think it’s likely TikTok is allowing the spread of false information, and 72 percent think it’s causing harm to teens’ mental health.
TikTok CEO Shou Chew is set to appear before Congress on Thursday as the scrutiny intensifies. The Washington Post poll surveyed 1,027 U.S. adults between March 17-18, and it had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Several countries have taken action to ban or restrict TikTok in some form due to concerns about user safety, privacy, and national security. Here are some examples:
- India: In June 2020, the Indian government announced a ban on TikTok and dozens of other Chinese apps over concerns about data privacy and national security. The ban was later lifted in January 2021, but TikTok has yet to relaunch in India.
- Pakistan: In October 2020, Pakistan banned TikTok over concerns about “immoral” and “indecent” content on the app. The ban was lifted later that month after TikTok agreed to moderate content in accordance with Pakistani laws.
- Bangladesh: In February 2021, Bangladesh banned TikTok over concerns about inappropriate content and “deterioration of societal values.”
- Indonesia: In July 2020, the Indonesian government temporarily banned TikTok over concerns about “pornography, inappropriate content, and blasphemy.” The ban was lifted a week later after TikTok agreed to increase moderation of content.
- United States: While TikTok has not been officially banned in the United States, the Trump administration took steps to ban the app in 2020 over concerns about user data privacy and national security. However, the ban was later blocked by a federal judge, and the Biden administration has taken a different approach by requiring ByteDance to divest its ownership of TikTok to an American company.
- The United Kingdom: The UK government has banned TikTok on all government mobile phones due to privacy concerns. Companies like the BBC are not advising staff to also delete the Chinese app from work phones as well.
These examples illustrate the global concerns about TikTok’s user safety and data privacy practices, as well as the different approaches that countries have taken in response.