A ban on the Chinese app Tiktok in the US is unlikely. In Switzerland, the situation is “noted”. What’s behind it?
The basics in brief
- The United States is considering a nationwide ban on the Tiktok app.
- Many other countries have also restricted its use.
- In Switzerland, no one thinks about it – experts explain what it is about.
The United States recently introduced a bill that would allow US President Joe Biden to ban Tikok across the country. Administrators are not allowed to use the video portal anyway. Reason: The app serves as a Trojan horse for the Chinese Communist Party to monitor and exploit Americans’ personal data.
The situation is similar in Canada, Latvia and Denmark. In Switzerland, banning Tiktok is not a problem. Federal employees may still use the app.
How is it, isn’t TikTok as dangerous as the US fears?
Martin Steiger, data protection expert and lawyer, puts it in perspective: “In the digital space, we are all monitored without reason or suspicion.” For example, in the course of Snowden’s revelations, much has emerged about American surveillance. So it’s clear that China and other countries are trying to do the same.”
«There are no major differences between Facebook and Tiktok»
So Chinese surveillance is quite possible and obvious. But “it is wrong to target China unilaterally.”
This is also how social media expert Mike Schwede sees it: “I don’t see any big differences between apps like Facebook and Tiktok. If Switzerland is going to regulate Tiktok more strictly, it will therefore have to restrict all Western services as well.”
That means: Tiktok, Facebook, and other Western services like Google — all in all their data-gathering beasts. With one difference: “One is a democratic regime and the other is not a democratic regime.” Schwede says each person has to decide for themselves where they want their data.
After all: the data for the western version of Tiktok is stored in the US, not China. Steiger also knows: “Tiktok is offered in Europe by companies in Great Britain and Ireland.” This means that use is subject to the European General Data Protection Regulation, just like Instagram or YouTube. According to Al Suwaidi, “rear doors are still possible”.
The prosecution of political opponents cannot be ruled out
No matter the country, the question always arises of what to do with the data. Are you using the site so that the user sees more relevant videos from their region? Or go after a political opponent?
Do you use tiktok?
In addition to allegations of espionage, it is often rumored that TikTok aims to deliberately blind the West. This is done by showing content that is relatively of low interest in the West, while showing educational content in China.
Schwede refers to algorithms: each user can control what content they can see. “I think other countries can take advantage of our stupidity,” says the social media expert with a wink. But we don’t have to be stupid.”
If Switzerland were going to put restrictions on Tiktok after all, that probably wouldn’t have any effect: “Tiktok would simply deactivate the app for Switzerland. Anything else would be too much effort for a few million users.” Switzerland can only come to terms with this if the EU decides on new rules.
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