North Texas Daily

Banning TikTok was never about national security

Banning TikTok was never about national security

Banning TikTok was never about national security
September 28
16:48 2020

After threatening the ban of the app TikTok in the U.S. over a month ago, President Donald Trump has finally reached a deal on principal allowing the sale of the app to U.S. tech company Oracle Corporation. While it’s wonderful that the drama over TikTok has finally settled, it’s very clear to anyone watching that this ordeal was never about national security as Trump claims it to be.

Back in August, President Trump gave ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok, 90 days to sell. Fast forward to this past Friday, the U.S Department of Commerce announced it would block new downloads and updates to the app come Sunday. Fortunately, this won’t happen as Oracle and ByteDance have reached an agreement. This partnership will allow a new company, TikTok Global, to take over the app in the U.S.. Oracle will take a 12.5 percent stake in the company and store all its U.S. user data on its cloud to comply with U.S. national security requirements.

So, instead of just the Chinese Communist Party getting our data, it’ll be shared with a company that has deep ties to American intelligence agencies and whose co-founder has a buddy-buddy relationship with Kim Jong-Un. We might as well get a Russian bank involved as well, because why not?

Trump went on record claiming he wouldn’t accept any deal that allowed ByteDance to retain control over the app but accepted a deal that still allowed them majority control. Trump’s insistence that TikTok is a national security threat is not untrue, but to believe that because the U.S. will oversee domestic operations of TikTok, it’s suddenly “not a security threat” is just plain stupid.

This is akin to a new outer coating of paint, the core organizational structure, data access, algorithms, etc. are still unchanged and will remain under the control of ByteDance.

It’s a delicate distinction but one intentionally made ambiguous so that Trump can back down and claim “success” while enriching one of his friends and not actually accomplishing that much in terms of defending U.S. national security.

All this means is that now the U.S. government can spy on you through the app, and there’s still a chance China could acquire lots of information through it too. It’s almost a retread of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Despite accepting a deal he said he’d never take, Trump did it anyway for the financial gain of his friend. And it should come as no surprise that Larry Ellison, co-founder of Oracle Corp., is in fact, one of Trump’s largest donors. Nothing fishy at all here. We at the Daily love the idea of a small government where the President can pick and choose which companies succeed and which don’t.

If Trump or the U.S. government truly cared about data security they would have enacted laws that applied to every tech company, not just TikTok. Passing comprehensive data privacy and protection laws along the lines of the European Union’s GDPR would make TikTok and many other products, Chinese or otherwise, illegal until they reform their practices.

Unfortunately, the Washington tech lobby would never allow for a federal consumer privacy act, and Congress is already trying to pass a bill that would ban encryption from websites.

In the end, all of Trump’s hubris and bravado about banning TikTok were for nothing but the gain of his donors and to be “tough on China” as he often claims. Allowing Oracle to buy TikTok will just be another scandal to add to the growing catalog of corruption committed by Trump and his administration.

Featured Illustration by Durga Bhavana

About Author

North Texas Daily

North Texas Daily

The North Texas Daily is the official student newspaper of the University of North Texas, proudly serving UNT and the Denton community since 1916.

Related Articles


No Comments Yet!

There are no comments at the moment, do you want to add one?

Write a comment

Write a Comment

The Roundup

<script id="mcjs">!function(c,h,i,m,p){m=c.createElement(h),p=c.getElementsByTagName(h)[0],m.async=1,m.src=i,p.parentNode.insertBefore(m,p)}(document,"script","");</script>

Search Bar

Sidebar Thumbnails Ad

Sidebar Bottom Block Ad

Flytedesk Ad