Daily Memo: TikTok’s Time Is Up

The app ban touches on numerous aspects of the burgeoning U.S.-China “tech cold war."

Clock ticking for TikTok. The Trump administration announced Friday that it will ban U.S. business transactions with China-owned social apps WeChat and TikTok effective on Sunday. This effectively means people who have already downloaded the wildly popular apps will probably still be able to use them indefinitely. But an accompanying ban on hosting or transferring internet traffic for WeChat could render it unusable immediately, and TikTok will face a similar fate by Nov. 12. At a minimum, though, they will disappear from app stores and not be able to be updated in the U.S. – unless, that is, the White House approves either a sale of TikTok’s U.S. operations to a U.S. firm (which Beijing is blocking) or a “partnership” agreement reached last week between Oracle and ByteDance, TikTok’s parent firm. The issue is important for how it touches on numerous aspects of the burgeoning U.S.-China “tech cold war,” including how concerns about the oceans of personal data people willingly hand over to tech firms could generate national security risks more broadly. Such concerns are theoretically valid (though, if so, singling out specific Chinese apps would be insufficient). But determining exactly how much risk the U.S. faces is extraordinarily difficult, […]

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