Should TikTok be banned?

2 min
Tags: TikTok ByteDance Privacy policy algorithm data platform user data location DSA EU Commission

TikTok is a popular social media platform that delights millions of users worldwide. However, it is always at the center of controversial debates. A ban has been discussed for a long time in the USA and there are also increasing voices in Europe who want to take the app out of circulation. 

TikTok: Problems with data protection

TikTok is an app from the Chinese company Bytedance. The app collects a wide range of user data, including content from audio and video chats, location via GPS (sometimes up to one query every 30 seconds), IP addresses, names of network connections, MAC addresses of routers and smartphones, information about rooted devices and even data from the clipboard on iPhones. 

TikTok’s privacy policy states that user data is shared with third-party providers who assist in providing the platform. Above all, the concern that the data that has been exploited could be misused in China is driving the advocates of a TikTok ban. The question of whether this step should be taken is complex and requires a balanced consideration of the arguments for and against a ban. 

Arguments in favor of a TikTok ban

TikTok has repeatedly received criticism for its handling of user data. The app collects a lot of information and there are concerns about the security and privacy of this data. In addition, there are allegations that TikTok uses algorithms to promote certain content and suppress others, raising questions about transparency and fairness. Due to the app's popularity with younger users, some countries have introduced age restrictions to protect children and young people. In some countries, such as the US, TikTok is seen as a potential threat to national security due to fears that the Chinese government could gain access to the data of American citizens. 

Arguments against a TikTok ban

Despite numerous arguments in favour of banning the video platform, there are some arguments against it. Speaking of freedom of expression, a ban on TikTok could be seen as an interference with freedom of expression, as the platform is a place for creative expression and the exchange of ideas. TikTok also offers companies and influencers a platform to promote their products and services. A ban could therefore have negative economic consequences. The cultural exchange would also be affected, because TikTok offers users the opportunity to discover and share content from different parts of the world. 

TikTok ban is questionable

Whether a TikTok ban can actually be enforced is questionable from today's perspective. The fact is that the European Union has initiated formal proceedings against TikTok to investigate whether the platform has violated the Digital Services Act (DSA). The investigation focuses on several areas, including the protection of minors, transparency in advertising, data access for researchers and risk management in relation to addictive design and harmful content. 

In the event of a breach of the DSA, the EU Commission could suspend certain functions of the app and impose fines of up to one percent of annual global turnover. For governments and politicians, dealing with TikTok is a balancing act to say the least. Against this backdrop, it is all the more surprising that even German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has his own account on the Chinese video platform.