TikTok and the Great Firewall of America

TikTok and the Great Firewall of America

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Emily Parker is CoinDesk’s Global Macro Editor.

On Wednesday, the Trump administration announced program, which is supposed to protect Americans’ private information from “malign actors,” namely China. The basic idea is that barring Chinese apps and companies will make America safe again. “Building a Clean fortress around our citizens’ data will ensure all of our nations’ security,” the State Department statement said. 

This is similar to the language lawmakers are using against TikTok. “A U.S. company should buy TikTok so everyone can keep using it and your data is safe,” U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) recently . “This is about privacy.”  

The argument is that the Chinese-owned app TikTok, which has access to the personal data of millions of Americans, could pose a threat to national security. Taken at face value, that position is not unreasonable. The problem is the assumption that U.S. companies can be trusted to keep personal data private and safe. This is not necessarily true. 

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