Experts believe that America is showing the same behavior that China shows about heavily regulating the internet by banning TikTok and WeChat

TikTok was already under the line of fire by the US government, and President Trump had already issued ultimatums to ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, to sell off TikTok’s US operations to any American investor by 12th November, otherwise, the app would be banned from the US effectively. ByteDance was already on the verge of signing deals with potential investors like Microsoft, Oracle, etc. However, this week, in an unprecedented turn of events, Trump has announced to ban both TikTok and WeChat from the US app stores by 20th September.

These bans are being imposed because both the apps belong to Chinese companies, and TikTok was already under heavy criticism and was being accused of invasively collecting American users’ data and sending it off to the Chinese government. So, citing the app as a national security threat, TikTok was already facing a lot of trouble, but now, WeChat also joins the league as the US government finds it a national security risk too.

China is famous for heavily regulating the internet and for its content censorship policies. It bans the websites and apps that are against the interest of the government. But now, in the light of the recent behavior of the US government, experts believe that the US is not doing anything much different from what China does and what the Americans always criticized before! The US companies have always advocated freedom of speech and expression with an open, unregulated internet across the world. But now that the geopolitical tensions between China and America increase, the latter’s behavior and approach change drastically too.

Rebecca Lissner, a scholar and book author from Georgetown University’s Center for Security Studies believes that the Trump government is replicating China’s need to become cyber sovereignty. She also feels that this imposing ban on TikTok and WeChat can take the US towards ‘splinternet’ which will eventually harm the US tech companies and users in connecting with the rest of the world. This is the same behavior that the US should combat rather than imitate or replicate.

Leeza Garber, a lecturer at the Wharton School of Business teaching internet law says that this ban can make the American users start looking for backchannels to use the apps, through VPNs or some unauthorized sources because the apps will be banned from the US app stores only, not from the entire internet. However, all this usage may fizzle out eventually as the users will not be able to install app updates if they are being used through backchannels. So, eventually, the users may lose interest in these apps altogether.

Experts also think that this ban can have a domino effect as other countries will start raising concerns over the data security of their citizens from the US tech companies and the US government. This can lead to further splintering of the internet across the world.


H/T: BI.

Read next: TikTok is the Most Downloaded Social Media App—Let’s Talk About the Ban

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