The White House has told federal agencies they have 30 days to remove TikTok from all government-issued devices. The following Cornell University experts are available to discuss the ban and its implications.
Tracy Mitrano, visiting professor of information science, says the situation surrounding TikTok draws attention to the importance of cybersecurity.
“There are on-going reports of how the CCP has brought successful Chinese internet companies and their CEOs under heel in manifestly forceful ways that are consistent with Chinese political culture and tradition but a complete anathema to the market driven United States and its dedication to the rule of law. Under those circumstances it is appropriate for federal and state governments to issue a ban on the TikTok application on government-owned devices.
“Over the last twenty-five years or so, no one country has been more responsible for cyberattacks and the exfoliation of information from U.S. corporations, higher education, and our government than China. What has, or could be, extracted about U.S. persons or interests from TikTok is a mere drop in the bucket compared to what has already gone to China over these years – in part for the failure of the U.S. to have a robust cybersecurity defensive and offensive policy.
“In fact, it could well be argued that China’s ability to leap over the industrial development that took us many more decades to accomplish is due in no small part to the illegal acquisition of so much of our intellectual property, trade secrets, corporate plans, research and development data. Yet we do not get bipartisan action until a silly, catchy app suddenly makes the headlines. Let us not ignore the fact that support for U.S. takeover of that app is driven heavily by U.S. corporate interests that are threatened by TikTok (which has eaten Facebook’s lunch) and which would love nothing more than to acquire that app because of its commercial success.”
Sarah Kreps, director and founder of the Tech Policy Institute at Cornell and professor of government, researches the intersection of international politics, technology and national security. She can speak to concerns over surveillance, the spread of Chinese technology and political motivations behind the ban.