How the US Can Ban TikTok in 7 Difficult Steps

12 months ago
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Individual users would not be penalized for staying on TikTok, and internet service providers such as Comcast and Verizon would not be subject to the order if they did not have any business deal with TikTok. “A trigger is actually a transaction,” says Pablo Chavez, longtime head of technology policy at Microsoft and Google and now a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security.

Make a law to fix the flaw

Some members of Congress say they will propose new laws in the coming weeks to address the legal issues that allowed the courts to block Trump’s order. New House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCall, a Texas Republican, expects his committee to vote on legislation by the end of the month, which he has yet to unveil, that empowers the president to ban TikTok and other apps that his office says the U.S. considers themselves indebted to the Chinese government.

McCall’s Republican colleagues, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Representative Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, are working to win more support, including from Democrats, for a separate proposal, their aides said. This would strictly prohibit transactions between US entities and social media companies originating in China, Russia and several other countries that the US considers adversaries. The goal is to make apps like TikTok unviable by preventing them from collecting money from US advertisers or being promoted in app stores.

Democratic Senator Mark Warner of Virginia has a broader plan of his own that he intends to unveil in the next couple of weeks, his team says. Fearing that legislation aimed primarily at TikTok would spark Chinese retaliation, Warner believes the new law should empower the president to disrupt various technology deals that foreign adversaries are interested in, posing a security risk to the US. The legislation could apply to a number of companies targeted by the US government, including Russian antivirus developer Kaspersky and Chinese telecommunications equipment maker Huawei.

Give an ultimatum

Back in 2020, Trump also ordered ByteDance and any other Chinese shareholders to pull out of TikTok. President Biden and company are still negotiating whether this divestment will occur. If Congress can pass a new law, it could give Biden leverage.

Lawmakers, including Rubio and Gallagher, want to make it clear in their new legislation that TikTok will be banned unless it cuts all ties to China. Earlier, the US forced the Chinese owner to abandon the gay dating app Grindr. “I don’t know how our national security interests and TikTok’s work in this country, as long as ByteDance owns it, can coexist,” Rubio told the TV program. Facing the nation this week.

Get Biden to issue a ban order

Biden’s most direct move against TikTok would be to emulate Trump’s 2020 executive order and require US data centers, app stores and network providers to terminate their contracts with the app, shutting down users.

It could also try to find some sort of legal authority to go one step further and order ISPs, including cellular networks, to actively block access to TikTok in the US, a situation that a spokesman for one major US ISP said their company did not collide. before. The exact methodology can be left up to individual ISPs.

This can lead ISPs to adopt tactics most commonly seen in countries with heavy internet censorship. A common approach is to forge domain name records, which prevents users’ devices from successfully connecting to certain servers. It is also used to block access to copyright infringement and child sexual abuse websites in most parts of the world.

Networks can also use stricter tactics to enforce censorship requirements, such as verification of unencrypted data passing through their systems to hint at suspicious material or filter certain IP addresses. But these measures are more likely to inadvertently disrupt other traffic, says Alp Toker, director of NetBlocks. “In practice, they can evade this mechanism if they are not pressured.”

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