Banning TikTok is not a solution, but a problem

Via FIU Flickr.

Heidi Cuevas | Assistant Opinion Director

The government’s decision to ban TikTok and FIU’s decision to follow is not the solution we should be happy about. It isn’t the only platform collecting data from its users, yet it’s being attacked while Instagram and similar apps are guilty of the same thing.

While I understand the political issues concerning TikTok, why hasn’t the government amended our privacy laws instead of resorting to bans?

Many of us are already victims of having tech companies take information from us. We pay little attention to what apps track our activity despite the pop-ups asking us to “track our activity.” It lets developers link information from you to third parties across the web. 

All the information is available to us in long contracts we glance over. If we decide to read it, it’s worded purposely to confuse readers and derail them from understanding the agreement.

There have been numerous cases regarding this issue. Facebook faced multiple lawsuits by their users who claimed the company had improperly shared their information with third parties and data brokers. The app settled the case for $725 million.

And yet, the issue regarding our privacy went silent right after. No change was made to the weak laws that should protect our rights.

TikTok’s ban is actively changing the ways we view privacy. However, it’s not the only one.

The ban on WeChat left international students alone and unable to reach family or friends from home. It’s difficult to find safe alternatives when it feels that too much personal information is being asked on different platforms. Now that the app does not function when connected to FIU’s WI-FI, these on-campus students are forced to find a new way to contact home while keeping their information safe.

I agree with the #DontBanTiktok project by the Fight for the Future organization, which explains the need to stop the legal efforts going into banning one of the many apps taking advantage of our weak privacy laws. Lawmakers should create one strong law preventing data-hungry companies from growing too big.

It should also allow people to sue companies for exploitation and crack down on data brokers.

On top of this, if President Biden is ready to ban the app, there will be a bigger problem to worry about. The First Amendment is likely to be constitutionally challenged. Biden would have to argue that the ban is substantially related to governmental interest.

What we need are stronger regulations. Banning TikTok will only derail the conversation away from the real issue, our right to privacy.


The opinions presented on this page do not represent the views of the PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

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