- If the United States bans TikTok, using a VPN to access the app may not be a viable option.
- In case ByteDance didn’t sell its interest, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) threatened to ban TikTok.
- TikTok would have to be removed from online app stores if it were to be banned in the United States.
TikTok might face a ban in the United States if its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, refuses to sell its ownership. Millions of people in the United States who use the popular video app are confused by this news.
In the event of a ban, some users may resort to using VPNs to access the service, which can make it appear as though they are connecting from outside the affected region. The difficulty in exploiting this gap, however, is not to be discounted.
At this time, a TikTok ban in the United States is not a major problem because there are still legal ways to use the app. The most important factors are listed below.
Visualization of a potential ban or forced sale
According to Douglas Schmidt, a professor of engineering at Vanderbilt, while there will always be loopholes that can be exploited by a small group of technically savvy users, the average customer will have a hard time gaining access to a service that has been outlawed by the government.
Schmidt predicted that there would always be a way to circumvent the problem. Yet, “it would just be a lot more difficult for the normal person to do it without getting an advanced degree in computer security or whatever.”
In other words, using a virtual private network (VPN) won’t be sufficient because doing so will likely still demand app store credentials, which will reveal a user’s location. Vice President of NordVPN Gerald Kasulis has stated that there is a technology that can identify when a user is attempting to access an app using a virtual private network.
The security concerns
There are two main causes for concern regarding the safety of using TikTok. There are two main issues here: the first concerns who has access to data about U.S. consumers, and the second concerns who has control over what information is made available to users in the U.S. Companies in China must comply with government requests for confidential information cited as being necessary for national security.
In an effort to appease the United States authorities, TikTok has promised that all data pertaining to American users is kept in secure facilities located in countries other than China. The corporation has established a detailed strategy, code-named “Project Texas,” that involves U.S. vetting of its code and a separate board of directors for a local subsidiary, with members reviewed by the U.S. government.
When asked by The Wall Street Journal whether Project Texas will do as much as divestiture to alleviate any security issues, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew said it would. Chew is scheduled to appear before a U.S. Congressional panel next week.
Yet, the tides in Washington aren’t turning in favor of TikTok, and legislators’ trust in China and its objectives has eroded. This problem arose earlier this year when a Chinese spy balloon was seen floating across a broad part of the United States, and Biden eventually ordered the military to shoot it down.
Users of consumer technology in China have no understanding of what data is being sent to the Chinese government. The United States government also has a lot of work to do in order to clarify what would occur if the app were to be blocked.
“Even for someone who studies this stuff, it’s not easy to detach and detangle all these apps,” said Gorman. “As a society, we have not made the decision that the app stores, the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store, should be restricting apps based on the amount of information they collect. It can’t be put on any individual and it really does need to be addressed by governments.”
According to Schmidt, data can have a surprising amount of value to bad actors, even though many users may believe their casual social media use would be of little interest to a foreign government.
“Having information about your habits and your interests and your interactions and where you go and what you do could be used for things like either phishing attacks to get access to more information, or for things like blackmail, if you’re doing things that you might not want other people to know about,” Schmidt said.
U.S. businesses are operating in the uncharted ground, in stark contrast to China, where nearly all content, including that of the United States’ largest internet providers, is blocked.
“Trying to police data access is very, very difficult, especially when there’s suspicion that the folks who are doing this have a reason to do it,” Schmidt said. “And they’re heavily incentivized to collect this information and use it for all kinds of purposes.”
You might also be interested in reading another recent article that we have covered, which is as follows:
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