CTM Insights Managing Partner Lou Steinberg in CyberWire Pro

A case against banning TikTok. A US national strategy for AI.

While AI has taken center stage in recent weeks, world governments are still scrutinizing the safety of video-streaming platform TikTok. Owned by Chinese-based firm ByteDance, many say the extremely popular app could pose a threat to national security, especially given the copious amount of user data its developers have access to. Several democracies, including the US, have already banned the platform on government devices and are considering blanket bans that would prevent use of TikTok by any of their citizens. World Politics Review offers a case against such action, noting that such restrictions are typically reserved for authoritarian regimes. The author notes that TikTok is far from the only online platform that processes and shares massive amounts of user data, and that, for example, Facebook was already hit with a $600 million fine for its questionable data handling during the Cambridge Analytica scandal. As well, the writer notes that while China’s history of espionage and censorship does allow reason for concern, there is no actual evidence that TikTok’s operators have been colluding with the Chinese government. What’s more, even the current government bans will be extremely difficult to enforce, and ensuring complete compliance on a full ban would require the creation of extensive technological tools and regulatory measures, as well as restrictions on potential workarounds that democracies have never employed. Instead of blanket bans, the author suggests regulators should collaborate with tech companies like TikTok, to try to implement other safeguards and independent security assessments.

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