A ban on TikTok would have been impossible without closed app store gatekeepers, says EFF board member @Zittrain. Walled gardens are free speech weak links. https://twitter.com/zittrain/status/1306945902498770945
Regarding TikTok, and some of the other apps from China, the case for forcing a divestiture of its US operations is not hard to make. For one thing, China vigorously censors foreign figures, and has banned any foreign app resembling TikTok. It is not, in other words, within the community of nations that adhere to liberal democratic freedoms on the internet, even very basic ones.
TikTok and similar Chinese apps also pose identifiable national security risks. Government and market are intertwined in China, and Beijing may insist on companies’ turning over data. This is not a theoretical or trivial danger: China has reportedly compiled extensive profiles of tens of thousands of Australians, using data from TikTok and other social media sites, potentially for an intelligence advantage.
Reasonable minds may disagree over whether an IPO or a sale to a US company is the best remedy. But most importantly, the TikTok controversy is an opportunity to think deeply about what the future of internet policy-making should be in this country. A continued principle of inaction cedes too much, amounting to a wholesale transfer of power and sovereignty to companies and foreign governments. In a democracy, government action is justified by public interest.
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