tech

Q&A: What would a U.S. ban on Chinese-owned app TikTok mean?

12 Comments
By ANNE D'INNOCENZIO

President Donald Trump says he wants to take action to ban TikTok, a popular Chinese-owned video app that has been a source of national security and censorship concerns.

The threat comes as Microsoft Corp is in advanced talks to buy the Chinese app, owned by Bytedance Ltd., according to a person familiar with the discussions who spoke only on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity to the negotiations. Microsoft declined to comment.

It's not clear whether Trump would accept a divestment as a concession. But there have been reports of U.S. tech giants and financial firms being interested in buying or investing in TikTok as the Trump administration sets its sights on the app.

Questions and answers about what's at stake:

What's TikTok?

ByteDance launched TikTok in 2017, then bought Musical.ly, a video service popular with teens in the U.S. and Europe, and combined the two. A twin service, Douyin, is available for Chinese users.

TikTok’s fun, goofy videos and ease of use has made it immensely popular, and U.S. tech giants like Facebook and Snapchat see it as a competitive threat. It has said it has tens of millions of U.S. users and hundreds of millions globally. But TikTok has also been a way that millions of people have built careers and made a living.

What would the ban look like?

The app would be pulled from the app store of Apple and Google and not function unless used by a virtual private network, experts say.

How likely is the ban?

Experts believe that while the ban may seem legitimate, it likely won't come to that, given the pressure by ByteDance to sell its stake and any control of TikTok to a U.S. company or completely spin off, says Ben Bajarin of Creative Strategies, an industry analysis and market research firm based in San Jose, California.

“I think a total spin-off or U.S. tech firm acquisition is the likely scenario here so it can keep operating," he added.

What does a ban mean for TikTok creators?

Many are trying to move followers to other platforms like YouTube and Triller, an entertainment platform built for creators. Some are trying to monetize through sites like Patreon, a crowdfunding platform for artists, musicians and other creators, says Amber Atherton, CEO at Zyper, a community marketing platform that connects brands with the top 1% of their superfans.

Atherton says teens will continue to access Tik Tok anyway through a virtual private network in the same way that teens access Instagram in China. But she says teenagers are devastated since TikTok is about everyday people where users can discover product demos and other information.

What are the political consequences for a ban on TikTok?

Industry officials say that any ban could invoke some retaliation from China against U.S. businesses.

“It could make many companies wary of the U.S. government’s capricious decisions, which leads to instability and uncertainty, “ says Sucharita Kodali, an analyst at Forrester Research, an e-commerce research firm. ”Investors then opt to park capital in more stable, predictable environments. Something of this nature is relatively uncommon. Usually, it happens when there are sanctions or other major political action."

© Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

12 Comments
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It's going to be very hard to ban these apps without doing what China does, and create a firewall blocking the traffic from such apps.

That said, China doesn't allow Western apps within China - so why are they complaining about us not allowing theirs ?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

But the sticking point is rogue companies like Apple, GM, TESLA, Boeing etc who think they are above US law. They should all be ordered to cease all trade with Communist China, or taxed out of existance.

They are doing legal things. Until those practices become illegal, there is only a moral question, not a legal one. Chinese people need jobs too. It isn't about the people. It is about the Govt there. Please Cisco, Microsoft to the list.

GM, Tesla, Boeing each have factories world-wide, including inside the USA, so that isn't quite the same situation. Cisco, Apple, and Microsoft are mainly in the US. Lots of companies in the world have sourced manufacturing and testing to Chinese locations.

https://news.microsoft.com/about-microsofts-presence-in-china/

https://www.computerweekly.com/news/252468671/Cisco-frozen-out-of-China-as-Trumps-trade-war-rages-on

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-health-apple-suppliers-analysis/if-apple-is-hurting-due-to-the-coronavirus-its-suppliers-and-rivals-likely-are-too-idUSKBN20C147

Japan is paying 87 companies to leave China. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/japan-helps-87-companies-to-exit-china-after-pandemic-exposed-overreliance/2020/07/21/4889abd2-cb2f-11ea-99b0-8426e26d203b_story.html due to "overreliance". They aren't forcing them back to Japan, just out of China into other Asian countries. Did I miss this story on JT?

Let me know when all Japanese companies are forced to leave China, not just leaving is needed, all ties need to be reduced over a few years, then completely cut.

Or one of the other choices above is needed. A hurting Chinese people and economy isn't in our interest beyond getting the people to change the ruling elite there.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

we just need to cut off all trade with China around the world.

I agree. But the sticking point is rogue companies like Apple, GM, TESLA, Boeing etc who think they are above US law. They should all be ordered to cease all trade with Communist China, or taxed out of existance.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Why is Trump so concerned about an app that teenagers use to share their childish videos? He should focus on something called "COVID-19".

Perhaps, because soldiers and politicians have been using it too.

Apps like that capture location data and we've all learned that to be extremely telling for what certain people are doing. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/12/20/opinion/location-data-national-security.html People located near military bases tend to be military connected. If they show up in other parts of the world in the tracking data and stay there for more than a week, then they are probably "deployed." Time to look into what they are saying to "friends" casually, perhaps something innocent is critical data for an enemy.

The CCP blocks facebook, twitter, google, and a number of other "western" apps too. Why? Because they refused to share data with the CCP-govt. When that first happened, the US Congress should have made dealing with China illegal for American companies, just like they banned NASA from working with the Chinese in space after repeated, proven, stolen, technology has shown up in Chinese rockets and missiles. Since 2000, China has been stealing technology from non-Chinese companies in the open by mandating tech-transfers. How else can the fact that China has a probe on the far side of the moon be explained?

Why does China have an internal version to every major, popular, world internet service?

All of this was definitely smart on the CCP's side. They got away with it because western companies were too afraid of not "being there" to say no. Hundreds of companies capitulated. Tesla included.

TikTok is just the beginning, I hope. I hope post-election that the next President keeps it up and expands it. The goal is to have fair competition and either

China needs to change to follow the rest of the world,

the world needs to change to follow China's methods (force IP transfer to local, competing companies, local manufacturing, and the ability to explicitly ignore all copyrights and patents from Chinese controlled companies, or

we just need to cut off all trade with China around the world.

The current situation isn't sustainable. It is win-lose, not win-win.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Two petty-minded reasons why the man-child is mad with Tik Tok:

● Sarah Cooper

● Tulsa rally

Tik Tok may be popular with teenagers, but a lot of the users are of voting age. Just saying.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Trump would never allow the banning of Twitter! That's his major communication medium. It fits his attention level perfectly!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

How about banning Twitter at the same time?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It could make many companies wary of the U.S. government’s capricious decisions

It could make many companies wary of the U.S. government’s PATRIOTIC decisions.

There, I fixed it for you.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Why is Trump so concerned about an app that teenagers use to share their childish videos? He should focus on something called "COVID-19".

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Trump will do it just because he likes to play emperor.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Trump says TikTok is a data sharing app with the Chinese government , once again another Trump statement without back up facts, , really, and do Americans really think that all the data collected by such companies as FaceBook/Instagram , Amazon, E-Bay, etc couldn't find its way into government agencies hands, they all ready sell/share your information with third parties. Plus like most governments around the world, they already have all the information on you anyway. This is just another attack on a successful Chinese company similar to the Huawei attack, America has this fear of not always being number one, well they better get used to it.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Industry officials say that any ban could invoke some retaliation from China against U.S. businesses.

China has no reason for retaliation. Facebook and Instagram are already banned in China and so this would make it even Steven.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

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