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Privacy Tip #350 – Let’s All Ban the Use of TikTok Voluntarily

I continue to marvel at how many Americans are using TikTok but are oblivious to the fact that they are being duped by one of our foreign adversaries—the Chinese Communist Party. Folks, listen to and heed the warnings of both state and federal governments on the dangers that the use of TikTok poses to national security. Think about your country instead of yourself and stop using TikTok. It’s a matter of national security.

I am not an alarmist by nature, but the increased mention of TikTok in day-to-day conversations is very concerning, considering the overwhelming warnings about how the Chinese Communist Party is collecting information on Americans. The way to visualize it is to imagine there is a member of the Chinese Communist Party on your shoulder looking at everything you do, tracking your location, accessing your personal and health information and that of your children and other members of your family. We wouldn’t like it if our own government were surveilling us like that. Why are we comfortable with a foreign adversary doing it?

You don’t have to listen to me—just scroll through the articles below—from both sides of the media aisle (this is actually a bipartisan issue)—and get on the collective wagon to voluntarily ban TikTok on a national basis. We can all do this together to spare the government from having to ban us from harming ourselves or our national security.

The saga started in 2020, when President Trump attempted to ban TikTok in the U.S. with an executive order citing national security concerns. TikTok then pivoted to potentially selling its U.S. business to an American company. That strategy fizzled.

President Biden revoked Trump’s order, but started an investigation into security threats posed by Tik Tok. FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr asked Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores.

Commissioner Carr wants TikTok to be banned for all U.S. users, citing concerns over how TikTok is handling the massive amounts of data it gathers from U.S. users and lingering doubts “that it’s not finding its way back into the hands of the [Chinese Communist Party.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray has testified before the Homeland Security Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives that the FBI has ‘national security concerns’ about the use of TikTok by American users. Wray testified that his concerns include “the possibility that the Chinese government could use it to control data collection on millions of users or control the recommendation algorithm, which could be used for influence operations if they so chose, or to control software on millions of devices, which gives it an opportunity to potentially technically compromise personal devices.”

U.S. federal agencies including the State Department, Department of Defense, the Transportation Safety Administration, Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. military and the Pentagon have already banned federal workers from using TikTok.

State governors also are getting into the action to ban the use of TikTok by state workers. The Governor of South Dakota issued an executive order this week banning state workers and contractors from using the app or accessing TikTok’s website from state-issued devices. Enough is enough. Let’s start a grassroots movement to ban the use of TikTok on our own. I urge you to join the movement.

Copyright © 2023 Robinson & Cole LLP. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 335
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About this Author

Linn F. Freedman, Robinson Cole Law Firm, Cybersecurity and Litigation Law Attorney, Providence
Partner

Linn Freedman practices in data privacy and security law, cybersecurity, and complex litigation. She provides guidance on data privacy and cybersecurity compliance to a full range of public and private clients across all industries, such as construction, education, health care, insurance, manufacturing, real estate, utilities and critical infrastructure, marine, and charitable organizations. Linn is a member of the firm's Business Litigation Group and chairs its Data Privacy + Cybersecurity Team. She is also a member of the Financial Services Cyber-Compliance Team (CyFi ...

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