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The icon for TikTok The icon for the popular video-sharing app TikTok, in New York, Feb. 25, 2020 (AP photo).

The Real Reasons to Be Concerned About TikTok

Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020

Over the past few months, the wildly popular video-sharing app TikTok and its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, have found themselves mired in a serious public relations crisis. In June, India banned dozens of Chinese apps, including TikTok, over national security concerns, and officials in Australia are reportedly investigating the app due to concerns over its ties to the Chinese Communist Party. In the United States, President Donald Trump seemed ready to ban the app last week, but has now given his blessing to a potential deal in which Microsoft would buy TikTok’s operations in the U.S., as well as in Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

But would that resolve all potential security concerns? And just how justified is the alarm over TikTok’s rapid ascendance to a top-tier social media company? More broadly, what lessons does TikTok offer to government officials outside China for how they engage with Chinese technology companies? For this week’s interview on Trend Lines, WPR’s Elliot Waldman tackles these questions with Samantha Hoffman and Fergus Ryan of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. Click here to read a transcript of an excerpt from the interview.

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Relevant Articles on WPR:
Banning TikTok Would Let China Off the Hook on Tech Reciprocity
Overshadowed by a Pandemic, the U.S.-China Tech War Is Heating Up
China’s Protectionism Online Is Driving Its Own Decoupling With the U.S.

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Trend Lines is produced and edited by Peter Dörrie, a freelance journalist and analyst focusing on security and resource politics in Africa. You can follow him on Twitter at @peterdoerrie.

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