After India, US & Australia eye ban on TikTok

Edited By: Palki Sharma WION
New Delhi Updated: Jul 29, 2020, 12:55 PM(IST)

US flags are seen near a TikTok logo in this illustration picture Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

In the US, officials in the defence forces and the government cannot install the app on their phones but, lawmakers are pushing for broader restrictions. 

Countries around the world want to make an example out of TikTok. The popular video app is facing bans with calls for a boycott in multiple countries and users around the world are abandoning the platform.

India was the first country to ban it, now others want to follow suit. Until India banned the app, it was ticking on its way to success. It was creating new social media stars and challenging the domination of the Silicon Valley but all that is history.

With India's ban, the fortunes of TikTok have turned for the worse starting with the United States. In the US, officials in the defence forces and the government cannot install the app on their phones but lawmakers are pushing for broader restrictions. 

The US lawmakers want a complete ban. There is no precedent of a network ban in the US as America has never cut off access to something via internet companies. It can introduce new regulations for app stores and create a new rulebook of sorts that allows the US government to ban apps. 

Meanwhile, the committee of foreign investment has opened a probe into TikTok. It is a very powerful inter-agency committee in the US which reviews foreign investments on national security grounds, if Tiktok is found guilty, the committee has the power to compel the app to separate from its Chinese ownership that is, if it wants to run its business in America. 

The US can in fact force TikTok to divorce its Chinese owners. Australia is another country looking to ban TikTok with lawmakers building pressure for a ban. It began with a report earlier this month with the Herald Sun reporting that one Australian lawmaker is pushing for a ban on TikTok since then others have joined and the chorus it is growing louder.

Senator Jim Molan has claimed that TikTok is being "used and abused" by the Chinese government.  A lawmaker from the Labour Party called TikTok before a committee of lawmakers. 

TikTok’s representatives were asked to face a panel and they were called to the select committee of foreign interference through social media. It is a committee which looks into foreign interference through social media. 

A top executive has already left the company and Tiktok’s owner Bytedance has lost it head of artificial intelligence. Ma Wei-ying will leave by the end of this month. 

Tiktok actually saw it coming. The company knew its links to China will hurt it at some point, so, it tried to create a distance between itself and the Communist Party. A separate app was created just for the Chinese market although Tiktok isn’t available in China but it has a different version of the same application called Douyin. 
The company hired foreign executives to lead its operations. In May, the company hired an American CEO Kevin Mayer. He had earlier worked with Disney. Mayer is the CEO of TikTok and the COO of its parent company Bytedance with most of the top executives of TikTok being American citizens. 

TikTok has hired an army of lobbyists in America to protect its business. TikTok reportedly had no lobbyist in Washington DC a year ago. Now, it has an army of more than 35 lobbyists there. It includes one lobbyist with deep ties to US President Donald Trump. 

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