By Gordon G. Chang, GATESTONE INSTITUTE • August 10, 2020
Pictured: The entrance to the headquarters of ByteDance in Beijing. (Photo by Noel Celis / AFP via Getty Images)
President Donald Trump has issued an executive order that just might save America’s democracy. The order will prohibit Americans from any transaction with ByteDance Ltd., a Chinese company that owns the TikTok video-sharing mobile app.
- At the moment, ByteDance is in negotiations with Microsoft and Twitter to sell TikTok. Yet a sale will not by itself end the threat. Any new owner will have to go over line after line of code to insulate TikTok from Chinese interference.
- Even an exhaustive review may not be sufficient, because Beijing will still know the general architecture of the software, thereby facilitating further manipulation of the app. As Dabrowa told Gatestone, “My team discovered that a foreign actor may come in the backdoor and change the feed.”
- In the meantime, Trump’s 45-day period, plus the time needed to review software, give China plenty of opportunity to interfere in the upcoming American elections.
- That means Trump last week with his executive order may have saved American democracy but maybe not his own presidency.
President Donald Trump on Thursday issued an executive order that just might save America’s democracy.
Using emergency powers, he prohibited, after the expiration of a 45-day period, Americans from any transaction with ByteDance Ltd., a privately owned Chinese company, or any of its subsidiaries. Prohibited transactions, the order states, will be those “identified” by the Secretary of Commerce.
The order effectively bans ByteDance’s TikTok, a video-sharing mobile application, from the United States at the end of 45 days.
TikTok has been accused of surveilling users, censoring content, and mishandling information of minors. There are also concerns the app has vulnerabilities, allowing the surreptitious downloading of malicious software on devices. The most important allegation involves manipulation of users.