China’s social media giant Tiktok is going on offense. On Saturday, the company revealed plans to sue President Donald Trump’s administration due to his August 6th executive order blocking use of the app in the United States within 45 days. The lawsuit will allege that the White House denied the company due process.
At issue: National security. The Chinese company is seen as a U.S. security threat because it gathers data on its American users. The data could–potentially–be used for espionage. TikTok insists it does not share information on international users with Beijing, however, it’s evident that Chinese companies can only thrive in the mainland if given the support of the Chinese Communist Party. As such, the Trump Administration worries U.S. users are vulnerable to spying and manipulation.
We must stop the Chinese Tiktoks of the World BEFORE they reach multi-billion dollar valuations and gather all our data. Why are we letting them in to begin with–given the MANY national security concerns?
The President has the right to interfere with Tiktok’s business, the White House may argue, via the 1977 International Emergency Economic Powers Act which enables the Administration to regulate foreign economic transactions.
White House Orders Fire-Sale…or Else
Meanwhile, a separate order from the President, issued on August 14, gives Tiktok 90 days to sell-off its U.S. assets. There is a flurry of speculation surrounding who might buy the company in this forced fire-sale. Microsoft has confirmed that it is in negotiations with the company, and Oracle is also said to be interested. The President, meanwhile, wants the company to pay the US Treasury Department a kind of “finder’s fee” based on the value of the sale…perhaps in part to counter critics who might say ByteDance, the company’s parent, made off with billions on the backs of U.S. consumers.
Indeed, the deal is expected by be worth an estimated $50 billion… however, given that numerous U.S. analysts worry the data is already in the hands of Beijing, it’s unclear the acquisition will make it through its upcoming hurdles. https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-to-sign-order-demanding-chinas-bytedance-to-divest-tiktok-11596219920?mod=hp_lead_pos1
The reality is, the U.S. needs to do a much better job finding and curtailing a Chinese Tiktok before it becomes such a giant in the U.S. After all, why are we letting them in and giving them access to our citizens in the first place? China most definitely doesn’t allow our companies on its social media platforms. Shouldn’t we at least play by the same rules when it comes to Americans’ privacy?
The U.S. needs to think strategically about the companies, and countries, with whom we do business. China is as much a political entity as it is a commercial one. We need to ask ourselves: why do business with a country that we fundamentally don’t trust? A company that steals our intellectual property by forcing American companies to surrender their intellectual property should they want access to the Chinese market?
China is playing a long game. It’s time we do the same.