What would a TikTok ban mean for users

The Biden administration indicated it could ban TikTok nationwide if Chinese company ByteDance doesn’t sell the app. Here’s how the move could impact users.

The Biden administration presented Chinese company ByteDance with an ultimatum. Sell your video-sharing app TikTok or be banned from the country.

TikTok has not yet indicated that it will sell but has tried to persuade U.S. officers that they can address security concerns, and meet the proposed scrutiny. TikTok CEO argued that a ban would not address security issues.

What would a ban on cigarettes mean for consumers? What precedent is there for such a ban.

NBC News interviewed four experts in cybersecurity, national security, and technology policy to get their thoughts on how a TikTok ban might work.

What would happen if there was a ban?

It is not clear how the U.S. would implement a ban. A bill that was introduced last week by a bipartisan group and has strong White House support would be the White House’s best chance of implementing a ban.

The bill was introduced by the senators to ban TikTok. However, it’s not clear how this would occur. The Secretary of Commerce would have a wider power to ban foreign technology if the U.S. believes it poses a threat to national security. It is unclear how this authority would be used. The Commerce Department spokesperson declined to provide details about how the agency was considering this power.

The simplest way for the government enforce a ban is to stop app stores making TikTok available for download, said Darrell M. West (a senior fellow at Brookings Institution Center for Technology Innovation). Eventually, the app may lose its functionality.

West stated that if there was a ban on software updates, there would be no further software enhancements and it would be impossible to use the apps over time.

Ahmed Ghappour, a Boston University professor of law, stated that TikTok use could be made a crime and subject to fines. This was done with other banned software flagged as a national threat in the past. He said that no such software was “as widespread as TikTok.”

Can I still use TikTok

Possibly. It could. These apps would, theoretically, still work on phones that have the app installed. The government cannot force users to delete the app. West stated.

It is not clear what the app will look like for grandfathered users. Existing users may log in to access video-sharing and browsing capabilities.

The U.S. could theoretically go further by forcing internet providers not to allow the app.

India is the largest country that has completely banned TikTok. In 2020, blocked many mostly Chinese apps. Soon after the ban, India’s Department of Telecommunications directed internet and wireless service providers not to allow the apps, including TikTok.

Soon thereafter, TikTok users in India claimed that the app had lost all functionality.

Is an app ever been banned in the United States?

The U.S. has not issued a blanket ban against an app. TikTok has been subject to a number of smaller restrictions.

Many universities have blocked access to the social networking app via school Wi-Fi networks and school-owned devices. States have also banned the downloading of the app from government-issued devices.

An app was sold by the U.S. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, (CFIUS), regularly examines foreign-owned businesses to determine whether their transactions and business pose a threat for national security.

CFIUS in 2019 forced a Chinese company to sell its ownership of Grindr .

Can I use a VPN for TikTok access?

The U.S. could move to block the app completely, but it is possible that access could be granted by using a VPN (virtual Private Network).

Virtual private networks allow users to route their internet connections through other networks. These networks are often used to bypass certain internet censorships.

West stated that virtual networks allow users to access Western applications. Americans could also use this method to access TikTok. He said that a ban would be difficult for authorities to enforce because of the many loopholes.

To make the ban more effective, the government could still target VPN access. Ghappour stated that officials could ban VPN access or force VPN companies to create a blacklist of websites they won’t allow traffic to.

Experts also stated that although there are possible workarounds for the ban, these may not be feasible due to the popularity and growth of the app.

“There wouldn’t be any way around the ban.” Elly Rostoum is a Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies lecturer and political scientist who stated that the market is too large. “We’re talking approximately a third of the United States population who uses TikTok.”

Does a ban indicate that my data is not secure?

It wouldn’t.

Rostoum stated that the ban did not address the main problem TikTok has, which is data transfer. “There will be another Chinese company that owns the company that can transfer data.”

Other experts agreed.

James Lewis, a technology expert from the Center for Strategic & International Studies, said that TikTok was only the tip of an iceberg. Many products use Chinese software.

the U.S. does not have a federal data privacy law. Data brokers are free to buy and sell user data without any oversight. TikTok has access to user information , but this is not the only case — many smartphone apps collect data from users’ smartphones.

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