The United States has just sent an ultimatum to the most popular social network of the moment: to be sold by its Chinese owner or be banished from the country.
By Vincent Fagot
Will the survival of the Popular Chinese Application Tiktok go through its resale to a foreign company? In any case, this is the message that the American administration passes. If Tiktok was to remain under the thumb of her parent company, Bytedance, based in China, it would be prohibited in the United States. This threat, revealed by the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday March 15, has been confirmed since the France-Presse agency by the leaders of Tiktok.
The warning is part of the right of pressures exerted by the United States against a social network whose hearings – more than a billion active users – now challenge social networks that are Facebook and Instagram. On March 7, two American senators, one republican, John Thune, the other Democrat, Mark Warner, tabled a bill, offering the trade department to thwart the development of foreign technological companies specializing in information and communication. A device supported by the White House which primarily targets Tiktok. His boss, Shou Zi Chew, must be heard on March 23 to testify before the American Energy and Congress Commerce Committee.
Against the background of technological competition with China, the United States suspects Tiktok to be enslaved to the central power of Beijing, to which it would transmit the personal data of its more than 100 million American users. This fear is based on a Chinese law of 2017 which forces Chinese companies and nationals to communicate to their government the data to which they have access. Another concern across the Atlantic, Tiktok could be a vector of influence for the benefit of Beijing, as Facebook had been used by Russia to weigh on American elections.
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Washington did not provide any evidence on what could constitute dangers on American national security. “The risk of espionage is still possible, says Julien Nocetti, researcher at the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI, specialist in technology geopolitics). As for the risk of informational subversion, it is the longer term.” A a Case, however, taints Tiktok’s credibility: at the end of December 2022, Bytedance acknowledged that a handful of Tiktok employees, since licensees, had accessed the personal data of journalists with the intention of tracing their sources.
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