It‘s a question of distribution power. If the power is granted to the executive branch, they can do it. It‘s part of decisions on their own country. I consider it much more questionable to exert power over allied countries to stop extraterritorial infrastructure projects (i.e. Nordstream 2), because the US wants to sell fracking gas to europe. I‘m sure that using such power will lead to losing it long-term and former allies for mutual profit will grow apart.
> It‘s a question of distribution power. If the power is granted to the executive branch, they can do it.
Any notably the power the executive branch holds, which the US classically prided themselves on being strictly limited in scope - as directly opposed to the monarchies the founding fathers resent, has exploded in power since 9/11 under Bush, then later even more so under Obama.
People had been critiquing the power grabs at the time for this exact reasons, knowing that they won't just be used to fight 'terrorism', which was always the pretext.
The fact almost every controversial thing Trump has done outside of congress has been using national security powers is not surprising. That authority was handed to them long ago and was always open to abuse.
The very broad national security laws in the US are the root source of the centralization of power. Simply changing who the president won't stop this train either. A lot of other country's presidents/prime ministers gained tons of power under the guise of counter-terrorism - including Canada and the UK.
> I consider it much more questionable to exert power over allied countries to stop extraterritorial infrastructure projects (i.e. Nordstream 2)
Nordstream 2 is a great example. Sanctioning a country that was literally the wall between you and the East is such an extremely stupid move. Just confirms Merkels sentence: "Europe can not rely on the US any longer".
German here and I have to, say: You lost me there, buddy. Even though I despise Putin and all what he stands for, I would now vote for polititians, who take a hard stance here, get the project done and take countermeasures or even sanctions against the US. Mind your own business! You have several catastrophes at home going on, maybe do something about that? We will buy our gas whereever we want to. Thanks for asking, we are doing fine here. So if you don't have a better deal for us kindly leave us alone.
And how would dependence on US gas delivered by ship be any better? As far as I can tell, it is the US acting up and sanctioning a German project at the moment. Not a great sales-pitch for future business.
There is no salvation West or East of Europe. Europe has to do it's own thing. The US has shown, that we are mereley allies as long as we are useful and it does not hesitate to sanction it's allies. There is no friendship between countries.
Putin depends much more on selling the gas than Germany on buying it. Russia also sold gas all through the cold war. They can‘t use it as a weapon, because it would destroy themselves.
Germany is also building LNG terminals.
And even if this were the case: it‘s none of the USAs business. They want to sell freedom molecules, nothing else.
Germany: underfunding its commitment to defense while undermining its national security by making itself completely dependent on Russia’s energy. Look how well that’s working out for Ukraine (starved of the energy that’s instead going to be routed through the Nordstream 2). And what about your former chancellor caught in the middle of selling out your sovereignty: Gerhard Schröder.
As for your last comment, the one insisting sanctions against the US: Merkel might have her foot on the throat of the rest of Europe, but we’re not going to see the day when Germany finally builds the empire of their dreams.
That's one onesided way to interpret the war in Ukraine. There are others. Even if it was the right one, the US is in no position to talk about illegitimate wars. The US has it's own shitshow going on in the Middle East (where it has no border and really no business being whatsoever), so maybe it should fix that first, before bothering Germany about where and with whom it wants to build pipes.
The US is no position to police other countries - especially not European ones, who are not even part of one - about illegitimate wars.
Regarding the empire I don't know what you are talking about. If the US sanctions Germany, Germany is economically perfectly capable of creating countermeasures. I say we should do so, because I cannot stand this arrogance. If the US starts trade wars with everyone, it hurts itself the most.
The short answer is that he can't. The president has no power to ban TikTok. The president also has no control over how the app is distributed or its connectivity. He can say whatever he wants, and he can strongarm the agencies he has some control over (like the FCC), but there's simply no mechanism by which a ban can be enforced, legal or technical. Unless Google and Apple decide to voluntarily remove it from their app stores and forcibly remove existing downloads, it's not going away, and neither company is going to do that without a legal battle. There's no one who even has the authority to demand it, though.
I want you to be right, but I don't think you are.
He's likely to issue some kind of executive order forcing bytedance to divest tiktok to continue operations. We may see some DoJ or FCC enforcement action that's effectively a "ban" (for users) while only being legally a temporary disruption of service pending compliance (for lawmakers, judges, enforcement agencies, etc to be okay with it). As we have learned over the last 4 years, the president has near absolute control over all federal actions.
I think the safe bet is a bunch of saber rattling that ends with some US entity buying tiktok.
He is right actually, and has a great argument and I don't feel you are correct at all. It looks like TikTok USA is currently trying to shut him down by simply becoming a completely independent company that is USA based and doesn't share any data with China. That is the 3rd option.
However if the CIA has some evidence that the Chinese are gathering up information and feeding it straight to their cybertroll farms then he absolutely can shut it all down and arrest some people because then they are breaking the law and that falls under Federal police power.
Most likely it will be added to the OFAC sanction list at which point both Google and apple will delist the app within a few days. You can read up on how the SDN lists are basically the long arm of US law and can completely excise someone from modern society (even if they live outside the US). Banks will refuse to complete payments, merchants will refuse service, shipping companies will return packages, etc.
This is the #1 mistake people have made over and over with Trump. “He can’t...”, “He won’t...”, “He wouldn’t...”, “He’ll never...”.
He doesn’t play by any rules. You have to assume anything and everything is on the table. If he really wants to ban TikTok he’ll either get it done or scorch the earth trying.
Do you really think once someone says, “Mr. Trump there’s no mechanism for you to legally ban TikTok” he’ll be like, “Oh yeah my bad, I better get back to work on helping America through this pandemic.”
He knows he can say whatever he wants and strongarm whoever he wants. That is his literal playbook!
Platforms can be heavily tied to particular speech - e.g. Parler, Gab, etc. Banning a platform can hinder the groups that tend to use those platforms.
It seems kind of absurd to just ban one of the most popular apps in the world over night like this, especially with a US company about to buy it. On the other hand, I agree that China has had an unfair advantage in terms of banning US apps. But an overnight ban? This could have been played better.
The interesting question is: What's the end-game here? Europe seems to be heading in the same direction. We obviously want global social networks, and no country is happy with a winner-take-all where they're not the winner. So my (optimistic) guess is that we'll end up with federated (or otherwise distributed/decentralised) networks.
Congress loves giving away power to the Executive Branch so they don't have to bear responsibility for unpopular decisions. It's likely that at some point Congress gave this power to the president though not necessarily this Congress and this president. Congress is free to take the power back if it votes to do so.
Given that even the Biden campaign has prohibited their workers from installing the TikTok app, there isn't likely to be much of a partisan fight over this issue.
I mean here in France when the government or the assembly trie to pass a law that is potentially unconstitutional there is an emergency review process by the "constitutional council" that can veto all or parts of the law that infringe.
This process just happened recently because our president tried to pass a "hate law" on social media that was deemed unconstitutional because it had too many unpredictable side effects on free speech principles.
Well, showing that it's stacked by a combination of the party in power in the Senate and the one in power in the Executive; the earlier description would have been more clear with reference to which power centers were being referred to. The Republicans used being in power in the Senate to block appointments until they also held Executive power.
Agreed, TBH the reporting on this has been awful, just parroting what Trump has said without challenging or explaining under what authorization he has to ban the app. I was hoping for more info in these comments but didn't really find it.
I know that the US does have the legal framework to deem the app a security threat based on its foreign ownership. Grindr, the gay hookup app, essentially had a forced sale from its Chinese owners .
However, if TikTok is sold to MS, and all user data is held in the US, I don't see any rationale that gives the government the power to ban the app, and MS certainly has the resources to challenge any attempted ban in the courts.
He can try, it will never survive court unless he can prove the chinese really were up to something and then it falls into his purview of Chief Executive/Policeman. He almost certainly doesn't have that evidence or he would have already posted it to twitter. He is currently in a panic right now to create some fear/successes for the November election. He's appealing to his base and hoping to pull in a few people who hate "the reds".
If twitter and reddit can delete whatever they want before elections, why not the chief executive? at least the public can vote him out and at least at that case he bans a whole platform rather than banning a political view like the silicon valley giants do.
Shows how far the balance of power has shifted in the last 20 years back when the Chinese government was banning western products to prevent "spiritual pollution" and "western influence". Now we got the reverse and it's also for ideological reasons (at least at face value).
Wonder if WeChat is next. That would be fairly effective in prevent overseas Chinese from communicating with the mainland and a lot of mom and pop businesses that operate through Wechat like the students who buy products for people back in China and advertise and transfer money using WeChat.
We'll be back to buying calling cards and dialing telephones, but I guess this is the era of decoupling one way or the other.
Maybe people will have to invent some kind of transformer software, like you plug a western chat app on one side and it passes messages through a third party relay to a chinese messaging app.
The point isn't to stop Chinese people from phoning home so a lot of that would be silly. Social media platforms that go mainstream are incredible propaganda and normalization tools, especially when their key demographic is a nation's youth. No one cares about WeChat because it's not nearly as influential in America and probably never will be.
Which isn't exactly reassuring or clarifying of any brightline, so of course this question continues to be in the air — unresolved. Will a stable framework of technological trade emerge between east and west besides "consult your legal oracles"?
I see this line of reasoning often, and frankly, I don’t understand it at all.
TikTok poses exactly the same risk as any other app on the App/Play stores. They go through exactly the same static code review and signing process - conducted by two American companies. Any security risk can be addressed at that point in the pipeline.
Assuming the concern is about “data security” (vs OS level security), I see literally zero difference between a state actor having access to my data, and a third party advertiser. If it’s insecure, it’s insecure - it doesn’t matter who the potential attacker is.
This is a horrible, horrible decision that has nothing to do with security, and everything to do with a horrible president desperately clawing for anything he can to get re-elected.
Right? That's what so unbelievable about this whole argument! Conceivably this is a tech forum where everyone posting should at least be familiar with that. Tiktok doesn't have any secret hacking rights to your system!
I think overseas Chinese have bigger problems to worry about than Wechat getting banned. Based on the trajectory the world is heading in, we might be seeing Pacific War 2.0 and internment camps in a few decades.
Could be, but we will all be old men by then, and given our profession, probably have a sizable chunk of change in the bank. Those that are vulnerable will be able to vote with their feet and enjoy comfortable retirement in South American or something.
It's the next generation that will truly suffer, because they will belong to neither country and be looked at as potential fifth columns by both.
>we might be seeing Pacific War 2.0 in a few decades
An American-Chinese Pacific War is a projection of American insecurity.
In the long run, without its 19th and 20th century grievances, the Chinese do not care about America. Full stop.
One day the Chinese GDP per capita (currently 8,000 USD) will reach the Taiwanese GDP per capita (about 25,000 USD), the Chinese GDP will triple and nothing America does will ever be interesting to the Chinese again. Except for a Pacific War, which brings no benefit to the Chinese, outside of a few small satrapies.
If we Americans recognize the Chinese tendency is towards isolationism, a tendency with historic precedents, there will be no armed conflicts down the line.
After PRC invades Taiwan. Has a short victorious war vs India, occupies Senkakus. Makes Philippines into vassal state etc.
Any pacific war will be a coalition of India, Japan, US vs PRC war most likely. They really really should stop murdering Indian soldiers, testing Japanese air defense daily, ram everyone’s ship whenever they feel like etc. But they can not stop themselves, because regime is based on nationalistic aggression and “payback” (wtf they are paying India for I do not know)
Look, this isn’t ideological. This is about Trump being butt hurt. I wish I could put a more nuanced spin on it, but that’s all to this story. TikTok has been a big platform for his critics and he is in a perpetual fight with China. That’s how we ended up here. WeChat is not on his radar and makes no difference to him. It won’t get banned. To be fair, I have a feeling TikTok will simply sue and win since this is blatantly unlawful, but I guess we will see.
What do you base your reasoning that this is just Trump being butthurt on? Because I have a strong suspicion that even though you don’t think the TikTok ban is ideological, your reasoning for that on the other hand is ideological.
The fact that Trump has done literally nothing but the things that benefit him personally his entire presidency? The fact that this is conveniently happening the week the US has posted record shatteringly low economic numbers and every time the stock market or the economy isn’t doing well he does something to distract the media and the public? The fact that we managed to elect a grifter? The fact that the man can’t read anything but his own name, let alone understand nuances of technology or foreign policy? You would have to be blind not to see through his intent. Or willfully supporting that racist as if in a death cult with him.
No banning TikTok isn’t ideological in this case: it’s one of dozens of Chinese apps. No other app is under fire. Yes I am ideological about Trump: I am against corruption and he is bar none the most corrupt president the US has ever had and hopefully will ever have.
In your first paragraph, you're supporting your baseless accusation with even more baseless accusations (all speaking in absolutes, and posited as facts! And some of them are so comical I'm not sure how you can seriously make such claims - it's funny you should mention cults, do you realize how you yourself sound?)
In your second paragraph, you're missing that no other Chinese app has 100 million American users. So yeah, no other app is under fire, but no other app matters nearly as much.
As to my username, for some reason I'm not surprised that it's too politically incorrect for you.
You keep using the word facts. It doesn’t seem like you know what it means.
As to your username, it’s not a PC issue. It’s just juvenile to the point where combined with your overall ignorance means there is no reason to take anything you say seriously. I hope some day you grow up.
This is a terrible development and precedent. Whatever you think of the CCP and the Chinese approach to censorship and tech, building our own 'Great Firewall' and banning foreign apps/services we don't like is not the answer. It just legitimises the Chinese approach and sends us further down the road to a fragmented rather than open internet.
I think it's reasonable to do for national security purposes, just like I think it's reasonable to disentangle U.S. industries from Chinese companies that pose national security threats and steal trade secrets.
So as a matter of principle, at least, I'm fine with it. I can't say I feel great about the wisdom of banning Tiktok in particular, but I won't let that confuse me into disagreeing with the underlying principle.
> I think it's reasonable to do for national security purposes
Haven't the most egregious erosions of civil liberties (Patriot Act for example) been implemented using the same argument? Not commenting on the validity of your position specifically, but your reasoning for it seems like it could be applied to just about anything regardless of how well it fits into the idea of a free and open democracy
> Haven't the most egregious erosions of civil liberties (Patriot Act for example) been implemented using the same argument?
Yes. We should be careful about it. That’s why I’m against secret courts. But this action us happening in the open, and ByteDance will have a chance to challenge it in court. (Something no American company could do in China.)
Just because something can be abused doesn’t mean it is always abusive.
>Haven't the most egregious erosions of civil liberties (Patriot Act for example) been implemented using the same argument?
Oh, definitely. I think those excesses which have been justified under the pretense of national security have been quite terrible, and I think that they are bad for reasons particular to those cases and arguments.
I don't take it to mean we should not have a concept of national security, or that we are so helpless that we can't meaningfully engage in case by case analysis of what to do in specific situations. It could be applied to anything if one isn't willing to distinguish between different cases based on their merits.
not on ios. also, i'm afraid banning in the US here means actually banning it worldwide. or that will be the next step. it would be easy to force apple to just pull it from the app store. and no, people won't just install it from the apk. maybe 1% know how to do that, so it'll be a ghost town anyway
It's reciprocity. China built a great firewall, and now countries are just merely putting their own locks to the gates to prevent the China from having free access to their own markets while refusing to provide the same.
I think that's what this is really about. Trump and the various neocons filling his cabinet have decided to try and do to TikTok what China has done to many US companies through its onerous censorship requirements and preferential treatment of domestic technology companies. This is a case of blatant tit-for-tat. What this boils down to is conservatives in the executive branch not wanting Chinese technology companies to be able to do business in the US. There is an argument that this is justified given the protectionism China has demonstrated towards its own tech sector. Ultimately though this escalation is probably bad for Chinese-US relations and the Internet as a whole.
It's possible for this to completely backfire though. Suppose Microsoft pays tens of billions to ByteDance to acquire TikTok's US operations and then the app tanks in popularity or fails to reach profitability. This seems especially possible given how new TikTok is and the faddish rise and fall of many other video-based platforms (Vine, HQTrivia, Pariscope, etc.)
Open internet is dead. It really sucks, I also had big dreams about it but it done for.
Twitter, FB, Alphabet excercise absolute control over censoring people they do not like(who are most likely wrong but that is not the point). Saw what happened with those docs video that Trump retweeted?
Sorry, you're conflating two entirely different things. An individual platform or service choosing to moderate content (which basically every website / app involving UGC does in one form or another) is in no way the same as censorship by the state.
Not even getting into the CCP ties, it's always struck me as unfair that Western social media companies are banned in China, while Chinese ones have been able to compete Worldwide.
In a way this gives Chinese apps an immediate advantage (as some are indirectly calling out in this comment section). If you want to reach out to someone in China, you have to use a Chinese company's app. Since social media is mostly a winner take all (or at least has a major snowball affect), this helps the Chinese social media company's grow even bigger. Now you already have one social media app for contacting people in China installed, why not use that app for contacting others?
This gets right to the heart of the paradox of tolerance. When your country is tolerant of other countries' companies operating locally, but they aren't tolerant of the same, then you're going to eventually be overrun. You cannot defeat the intolerant through blanket tolerance; consequences and retaliation are necessary. To make it even simpler, tit-for-tat is a good strategy for iterated prisoner's dilemma; always cooperate isn't.
> This is less so because they ban anything that isn't controlled by the authoritarian and antidemocratic regime.
Really? So why are there Apple stores in China?
It seems like a rationalization to always see ourselves as the "good guys" no matter what. Every empire ever did.
Playing devil's advocate, I can see the Chinese rationalizing their bans as defending their sovereignty against Western dominance since we have a long history of bullying China and other nations that don't toe the line.
My point being, there's rationalizations you can make from their side too, which doesn't make their behavior correct.
Just because you can find some kind of a rationale for banning TikTok doesn't mean it's not hypocritical, especially while we often like to claim to hold higher moral values.
It's a known fact that Apple cooperates, apparently enough to be satisfactory for the CCP.
Short personal anecdote if you don't believe they vigilantly ban anything they don't like: My mom is Chinese and Buddhist. Her tiny Buddhist organization was recently told they would have to cease operations. All they were doing was meditating and praying together in livestreams. They also had online lessons with Buddhist monks and stuff like that. It's all harmless stuff, and their page had like 5K likes.
You would think something tiny like that might fly under the radar in a country with 1.3B people.
> It seems like a rationalization to always see ourselves as the "good guys" no matter what. Every empire ever did.
I'm not saying we're always the good guys no matter what. There's enough to criticise in our society. But no matter how much room for improvement we have, you cannot seriously contend that it's even a question whether democracies like ours are superior compared to totalitarian regimes like that of China. That question was answered over and over throughout recent history, and shouldn't ever have been brought to the table in the first place.
> I can see the Chinese rationalizing their bans as defending their sovereignty against Western dominance
That's not a rationalization, that's literally just what they're doing. And we're also doing the same by banning TikTok. But that's not the point, defending your sovereignty isn't inherently bad. The point is that it's only bad if bad regimes do it.
I am talking about how they may rationalize it, not what the actual goal is.
Take the Iraq war. The goal was to further assert ourselves in the Middle East, settle old scores, signal to our official enemies we mean business and enrich a bunch of military contravtors.
But the rationalization that I think made it possible for a lot of these people to sleep at night was things like defending the country, empowering women, bringing in democracy etc.
These are different things.
Also, as an aside, I may be wrong on this, but I think people sometimes underestimate the foothold of the CCP in mainland China and assume a coup would happen a week after YouTube was let in.
I feel this is incredibly naive; I mean if you look at how in our democratic societies narratives are regularly constructed to strengthen the status quo, often by pretending that the 2 parties actually have major principled disagreements, while nothing fundamentally changes almost no matter who gets elected, to the point where there are studies showing that the majority of policies people in the U.S. are in favor of don't get enacted.
Hong Kong is a bit different, because people there don't necessarily see themselves as having that much in common with mainland Chinese, but I don't think CCP would actually collapse if YouTube and Twitter were to be let in.
I happen to think the bans have more to do with wanting to empower local companies, (which yes are more easily controllable too), so that there's a strong internal economy that would ultimately be able to withstand sanctions etc.
> but I think people sometimes underestimate the foothold of the CCP in mainland China and assume a coup would happen a week after YouTube was let in.
The important point is not what people believe, but what the CCP itself believes.
It seems natural for all governments brought to power through revolution to overestimate and fear the power of revolution. Especially when they knowingly don't have a firm grasp on public thinking, due to continued suppression of open, free media.
I mean, the societ union collapsed remarkably quickly. At least in Romania, the collapse was partly motivated by illegal showings of western films in homes across the country which have the Romanians (whose media and travel were tightly restricted) a glimpse into the freedoms and abundance they were missing out on. I’m sure it’s not exactly the same but it gives me pause.
> I mean, the societ union collapsed remarkably quickly
I don't think comparing these two is all that helpful. The Soviet Union made its authoritarian side too visible, i.e. Prague 68 etc.
Combine this with the fact that the union wasn't really united by any sense of national identity, that is the Czechs viewed the soviets as the Russians and their own party officials as puppets to Moscow.
In that sense the Soviets were foreign occupiers. This is not true for the CCP.
Another important point is that quite frankly, most people care about material well being first, political preferences second. By the time the USSR collapsed, its citizens felt like they'd be in a dire economic situation as long as the status quo continues. This is a much more powerful force than the rather vague promises of a democracy, I'd say.
The Soviets made the mistake of not allowing private business to occur basically at all, which means people had no hope of ever "making it".
In America, you have your Zuckerbergs that help keep the idea of an American Dream alive and something to look up to as being possible if one only works hard enough.
The Soviet Union didn't have that motivational force, however deceptive it is, but China does have its Jack Ma figures. Its economy is a mix of centrally planned and free trade and much more complex than the Soviet one was. It's also a bigger internal market. In other words, you could dream about potentially being a billionaire in China, you couldn't in the Soviet Union.
Also, many Chinese enjoy a relatively middle class lives that, as long as one doesn't get too political, probably don't feel that restrictive day to day.
As long as the CCP can keep the economy growing and people can maintain their middle class lifestyles, no revolution is coming.
Fair enough. My point was less that these are very good comparison points and more that video and culture are perhaps more powerful than we might initially think. I don’t think any CCP revolution is around the corner.
Come on. China’s communist regime killed tens of millions of its own people within living memory. It presently commits egregious human rights abuses against its Uighur Muslim population. It prohibits its citizens from accessing media which might possibly negatively portray The Party. Banning TikTok may be a bad idea and the US certainly has its own troubled history, but this executive order isn’t “hypocrisy” and it certainly doesn’t put the US in the same moral ballpark as China.
I’m not claiming that the ban is related to human rights, but rather that the US and China aren’t in the same moral ballpark. Banning TikTok isn’t equivalent to education camps, forced organ harvesting, sterilization, etc of ethnic minorities.
> that the US and China aren’t in the same moral ballpark.
I am not saying that it's necessarily the same, but is probably a lot closer than one would hope.
U.S. prison populations are basically forced labor, killing millions of civilians, not its own citizens but still, within living memory is also a thing, millions are without health insurance during a pandemic and still no universal healthcare in sight, police brutality, treatment of migrants, coups in foreign countries, school shootings, drone strikes with over 90% civilian causalities, holding people without trial at CIA black sites and GB etc.
Then you have the crimes that weren't committed directly by the U.S. but by its ales with U.S. encouragement and sale of arms, like what the Saudis are doing in Yemen right now, or the indirect funding of extremist elements in places like Syria via the likes of Qatar.
One area where the U.S. is far worse is overthrowing democratically elected leaders of sovereign countries that weren't sufficiently subservient to American corporate interests. It's basically the government doing the bidding of private interests, which is the very definition of fascism.
Again, I don't think they're exactly the same, but not as far apart as you'd think. The one major difference is the U.S. treats foreigns like trash, while China likes to keep it more domestic on that front.
I don’t think US has killed millions of civilians in living memory. Further, I think there’s a vast moral difference between civilians dying over the course of war (especially when enemy combatants deliberately hide among civilians and the difficulty of perfectly controlling an enormous army of soldiers) and waging an ideological campaign on one’s own citizens. Dropping the atomic bombs on Japan was awful, but I can appreciate that it brought a swift end to the war at very least—I see no such advantage to Mao’s cultural revolution.
School shootings and dearth of health insurance don’t remotely make up the moral gap between the US and China. As awful as those things are, they are but a drop in the bucket.
Further still, many of the other things you posit as uniquely American such as coups in foreign countries l, police brutality, dearth of healthcare, etc are not only present in China, but exist to a much more severe degree. The US has police brutality (lack of proper regulation of its police forces), China’s police will disappear people for political speech (actual institutional oppression).
I agree that the US is imperfect, but your attempts at drawing parallels between Chinese offenses and American offenses seems highly disingenuous. You seem to be flagrantly ignoring the different contexts when convenient (e.g., the difference between “civilians killed during war” and “killing one’s own civilians en masse as part of a political purge”) and listing offenses that are more egregious in China as uniquely American. I don’t really want to continue this conversation if you aren’t here in good faith.
As I said, I don't view them as morally equivalent, just not as far apart as I'd like them to be and people who experienced i.e.  probably view the U.S. as much worse, if you take the Korean War, Vietnam, Latin America, The Middle East, that's millions of civilians killed within living memory.
2003 Iraq alone is ~200,000, (up to 1mil per some), and that's discounting the first Gulf War or the sanctions following it that killed overwhelmingly civilians.
The difference between you and me is that I don't see killing foreign civilians as somehow less horrible than domestic ones.
When you say it's different during the "course of a war", worth noting that in many places no formal war was ever declared. In places like Pakistan, the drone warfare for example is more of a shadow war than anything.
As for people dying due to lack of healthcare and you not counting it, if we're going to attribute the evils of CCP to "communism", why discount deaths attributable to "capitalism" so easily?
My ideology disagrees strongly with the CCP, but I try to be as objective as possible when evaluating any actor, especially one that is subject to wast amounts of U.S. propaganda and is hard to ever get a more nuanced picture of.
Another issue is that the U.S. likes to present itself as a moral leader on the world stage, so it should be held to higher standards.
I am not even going into the issue of financial sanctions, where China has nowhere the amount of power the U.S. has. And the American government is willing to use that power to block shipments of food and medicine to countries it does not like, even during an unprecedented global pandemic.
I appreciate this is not discussed regularly on evening news, unlike China is, but it is very much real, this is why when you poll people from around the world, the U.S. usually comes #1 as a threat to world peace.
P.S. I don't say this to try and paint the West negatively. I say this because I want us to actually be as morally correct as we'd claim we are instead of just diluting ourselves into thinking we are soo much better already.
In other words, I'd really like the propaganda to actually match the reality.
> As for people dying due to lack of healthcare and you not counting it, if we're going to attribute the evils of CCP to "communism", why discount deaths attributable to "capitalism" so easily?
Because the deaths aren’t attributable to capitalism. Capitalism has increased longevity all over the world, including in China. In China, it not only made medical advancements available to the Chinese, but China’s recent prosperity (and the consequent improvements in health outcomes) is directly attributable to its slide toward capitalism. By contrast, the policies of mass murder and starvation during the “Great Leap Forward” were a massive regression in Chinese outcomes. Of course, all of this misses the point that even if the outcomes were exactly the same in both countries, a bad outcome due to malice is still morally worse than the same outcome due to incompetence. Failing to provide top notch healthcare to a country’s citizens is a much less grave offense than outright murdering millions of citizens to protect or extend one’s political power. America’s postwar faults aren’t comparable to those of China’s, and while I understand and appreciate your goal of trying to draw attention to America’s own faults, trying to make the comparison with China has the opposite effect. The US is already incomparably better than China, but we shouldn’t settle is the argument you ought to be making, IMO.
> Failing to provide top notch healthcare to a country’s citizens is a much less grave offense than outright murdering millions of citizens to protect or extend one’s political power.
It's fair to say it's not as bad as doing it for political power, but it's worth noting that in the U.S. aprox. 45000 people a year die due to lack of adequate healthcare. Over the past 4-6 decades, it indeed ads up to millions dead.
This state of things is directly attributable to law makers being lobbied by corporate interests. Practically every other developed nation has some form of universal healthcare. We can add a large number of those that died from the current pandemic, since quite visibly the countries with universal healthcare did much better.
Your argument essentially seems to be that it's way better for private interests to influence public policy in a negative way than having the state enacting terrible policies by itself.
I agree that it makes it more distributed, but still terrible. And yes, it is capitalism. You cannot just take the good parts and disregard the bad.
> I understand and appreciate your goal of trying to draw attention to America’s own faults, trying to make the comparison with China has the opposite effect. The US is already incomparably better than China.
This is my main issue with your argument. Sure, China is still worse, I acknowledge that, my argument is that the U.S. is not as much better as many, including you, probably think.
You have a much more direct impact on the U.S. and making it better than you have on China. Diluting yourself into thinking the U.S. is already essentially "the good guys" prevents you from having the will to actively improve it and over time leads to the fact of it being not as far from China as you'd like.
The world already thinks of America as the bigger threat to world peace, you can keep telling yourself what you want, but the rest of the world has a much less rosy picture of the U.S. than you'd think and the best way to keep China from "taking over" is not to ban TikTok but to work hard to improve that image.
> You have a much more direct impact on the U.S. and making it better than you have on China. Diluting yourself into thinking the U.S. is already essentially "the good guys" prevents you from having the will to actively improve it and over time leads to the fact of it being not as far from China as you'd like.
You’re mistaken, I have little difficulty in acknowledging America’s faults and focusing on improving them. I can simultaneously acknowledge that the US has considerable room for improvement without needing to pretend like our deficiencies are comparable to Chinese deficiencies, and indeed if one’s goal is to encourage Americans to improve, why drag in a China comparison at all? I don’t think Americans need to be diluted into thinking that we are only a little better than China in order to improve; in fact, I don’t think our motivation for improvement should be predicated on a China comparison at all. I think these kinds of nonsense comparisons are an impediment to improvement.
> You’re mistaken, I have little difficulty in acknowledging America’s faults and focusing on improving them.
You haven't acknowledged a single one so far. You simply brush them as "I don't think the U.S. has killed millions of civilians within living memory" (it has), or the lack of healthcare is somehow not a direct consequence of capitalism in a sector that shouldn't be for profit (it is).
Everyone can say they can acknowledge faults, without actually acknowledging any.
> I can simultaneously acknowledge that the US has considerable room for improvement without needing to pretend like our deficiencies are comparable to Chinese deficiencies.
Again, I am not making the argument it is comparable, just that it's probably closer than people like you like to tell themselves it is.
> why drag in a China comparison at all?
Because this is a topic about America closing its markets to a Chinese company maybe?
The U.S. waged many imperialist wars in order to force open markets in various countries around the world to its exports. So it is indeed very ironic that now this aggressive proponent of "free market" is closing their own.
There are also disturbing points of comparison considering the U.S. is a democracy, like its slave prison labor for example.
I am coming at this as an European with an outside perspective. My life is far more directly impacted by the shit America does than China. And the U.S. does a lot of shit in terms of its foreign policy. It seems to me like your view of how the U.S. is perceived is colored by how American media says the world perceives America, rather than the reality.
Yes, the ideal of America is great, but the reality is far from the ideal and just looking at its handling of the current pandemic does not paint a pretty picture.
So agree to disagree, overall still better, sure, just not by as much as Americans seem to think, especially if you consider that the current U.S. "regime" is a lot older than China's current system and had a lot longer to stabilize, get confident and as a result a lot more peaceful.
If we were to include its entire history, including the history of slavery, it would indeed be the much worse party.
As I said, not a fan of the CCP and think it has fascistic tendencies, but the tales America likes to tell itself of how moral it is are honestly a bit delusional.
I don't think this discussion is going any further.
You keep misrepresenting me. I have acknowledged America’s faults, including the absence of universal healthcare. This isn’t meaningfully “a consequence of capitalism” as indeed many European countries with their public sector healthcare have capitalist economies. It’s really too bad that you insist on misrepresenting me and making disingenuous comparisons, because I think this conversation could have been interesting and mutually enlightening. Oh well, you are right that this conversation won’t be going further.
> have acknowledged America’s faults, including the absence of universal healthcare. This isn’t meaningfully “a consequence of capitalism”
It seems pretty clear to me that it is. Specifically lobbying and campaign donations by the for profit health insurance industry is a direct consequence of there being a for profit, capitalistic motive within that sector. These capitalist incentives are directly lobbying against universal healthcare.
And no, I do not blame all of capitalism for this, Nintendo is not responsible for the lack of universal healthcare in the U.S., just in case this really needs to be said.
> as indeed many European countries with their public sector healthcare have capitalist economies.
They tend to have mixed economies with a strong regulatory system and a social safety net.
I know in the U.S. the success of any public service gets overlooked, its failings get attributed to socialism and capitalism's failings get overlooked, so in the end capitalism wins.
In the EU, we know you can mix the two. You don't have to pick capitalism or socialism, they can be mixed and matched as it makes sense, which indeed seems to be the best approach.
Not every aspect of capitalism is great and not every aspect of socialism is terrible. This seems to be forgotten a lot in American discourse and everything is very black and white to you, it seems.
Fascist more than communist: it's military-heavy, nationalist, authoritarian and corporatist but with notionally private enterprise rather than simply overt government industries, all of which are typical of fascism (a few overlap with features of Leninst-style Communism, but neither nationalism nor, particularly, private-but-corporatist industry fit that model.)
It's not particularly aggressively expansionist, so it's not quite classic Fascism.
The US ostensibly isn’t banning TikTok to prevent its population from being exposed to foreign criticism, ideas, etc which might reflect badly on The Party. We know this because the US permits lots and lots of foreign media, applications, and websites while China restricts far, far more.
None of this is to say that I think the executive action is a good idea, but there is a middle ground between “a bad idea” and “literally the same as the CCP”.
I defend free trade/market not for moral reasons but for efficiency reasons. But when something as big as China violates it, the efficiency breaks, and there is no point in sticking to it for moral reasons.
China is openly show everyone that they'll censor and force state-backed monopolies in every area they have control over. There is nothing wrong regarding morals if means help to stop totalitarian system from spreading.
We're allowed to take a little more of the broader context into account - China is banning things because ideas might be spread that they don't like. People might spread fake news stories, like a genocide in Xianjiang.
The US will read all your messages; but you can say what you like in them. The ban isn't for authoritarian reasons; it is a fairly pure economic/geopolitical play. You can say whatever crazy stuff you like as far as the government is concerned.
The modern form of power stemming from controlling a social media platform doesn't lie in completely blocking out inconvenient information (old-fashioned censoring) or spreading that one official truth (Volksempfänger-age propaganda), it's the power of subtly augmenting some groups of voices while giving others less exposure. It's mostly a destructive power because the most reliable way to use it is to blow up harmless disagreements into crippling internal conflicts - and all without anyone noticing that they are being played.
The present-day equivalent to the train that carried Lenin from Zürich to Petrograd would be a little tweak in a social feed visibility algorithm in some corporate codebase.
> The West has always said that the Chinese bans to Western social media and tech companies were authoritarian and antidemocratic. How is this less so?
Policy A: "Any social media platform that refuses to censor opinions the government doesn't like is banned"
Policy B: "Foreign social media platforms are only allowed to operate in our country if our own social media platforms are allowed to operate on the same terms in theirs"
Can you see why Policy A is antidemocratic but Policy B isn't?
One reason why is that Policy B is viewpoint-neutral – the ban has nothing directly to do with what viewpoints the social media platform allows or disallows, it is simply demanding regulatory reciprocity ("We won't ban yours if you don't ban ours"). Whereas, in Policy A, the ban is part of the government trying to control which opinions are allowed to be expressed, which is anti-democratic.
(I haven't heard a clear explanation from the Trump administration of what their reasons for banning TikTok are. It is possible those reasons include Policy B, it is possible those reasons are completely unrelated.)
"I will nuke you if you nuke us" is what's been keeping most of the planet at peace since 1945.
> and gives agency to someone else to act on your behalf
Relinquishing control is a very effective negotiation tactic. If you can credibly lose agency in a given situation - precommit yourself to a course of action - this means the other party has all the control and all the responsibility. If, given your pre-committed response, one choice is bad for your opponent, they're essentially forced by you to take another one.
Thomas Schelling wrote a whole book ("The Strategy of Conflict") about such scenarios.
A toy example (I think it's even from the book): imagine we're both in cars, driving towards each other and playing chicken. Whoever veers off to avoid collision first loses. If you want to win for sure, all you have to do is to rip out your steering wheel and throw it out of the window - if I see that, my choices are suddenly reduced to "lose the game, or we both die".
A real example is automated retaliatory strike systems that both sides of the Cold War worked on - strenghtening deterrence by ensuring a retaliatory strike will happen even if humans in charge change their minds.
“‘I will x if you will also x’ makes you reactionary and gives agency to someone else to act on your behalf.”
This is true to an extent, but I find it unpersuasive. Because it’s basically my main negotiating and parenting technique. I don’t bluff well or frequently. I prefer to lay out the options ahead of time (because I’ve already thought them through) so I can let the other party make an informed decision.
“I will buy this widget for $X. Anything more than that and I will use your competitor / build it in-house.”
“If you clean your room, we’ll get ice cream. Otherwise, no video games today.”
“If you drop a nuclear bomb we will drop our nuclear bombs.”
The catch is that you have to mean it. Which is why I don’t see any real value in bluffing in long-term relationships. We’ve all seen those parents who tell their kids “If you don’t stop doing X right now then Y” and everyone knows (especially the kid) that there will be no follow through.
But predetermining your response doesn’t give away your agency. It’s simply stating in advance how you will respond to others agency in an effort to let them make an informed decision.
There is nothing positive coming from an aggressive situation anyway, but I’d wager the main issue is the reacting party is always getting hurt more than the other one.
EU would ban Aussie wine only if the benefits overweights straight reciprocation.
So Australia stating it will ban EU wines as a reaction just let’s the EU validate it’s worth it. If it’s not, no ban is set and nobody gets hurt. If it is, both bans are set but the EU comes out better if their calculations are right.
I agree that this has tones of adjusting your moves to match those of your adversary.
I just think that the losing side, when adopting similar moves, is not playing dirty per se. It's just leveling the field. You can only play foul if both players share, at least superficially, a similar moral framework.
Why would you restrict what your customers (ie citizens) can do, just because some despotic regime somewhere abuses their citizens?
One reason Chinese products are cheaper is that they largely ignore environmental concerns. So by allowing the trade all we do is put our own, well-regulated factories out of business, whilst increasing the net pollution in the world, and instead of quality products that last we get junk destined for landfill, thus perpetuating the cycle. So there are very, very good reasons to look at the big picture here.
And that's before you even get into the slave labour...
Last few decades are pretty much entirely made of evidence for that - private owners will, given insufficient barriers preventing it - move their manufacturing to the places with low labor costs. It's why almost everything you or I own has a label on it that says "made in China", and not "made in the USA".
> That seems like a decision for customers to make? If customers prefer cheaper products, who are we to judge?
Naively, yes. In pratcite, this is equivalent to letting a 3 year old choose whether they'll get chocolate or broccoli for dinner. Customers almost universally prefer cheaper products above almost anything else - including economy, environment, and their own safety. Which is why a good chunk of business-related laws in every country exists solely to remove options from which customers can choose.
You are right that Chinese manufacturing has grown a lot. But what's the evidence that this growth has anything to do with a hypothetical decline of the US? More than a century ago the US and German industrial output growing didn't diminish British output, either.
> Naively, yes. In pratcite, this is equivalent to letting a 3 year old choose whether they'll get chocolate or broccoli for dinner. Customers almost universally prefer cheaper products above almost anything else - including economy, environment, and their own safety. Which is why a good chunk of business-related laws in every country exists solely to remove options from which customers can choose.
Perhaps we should remove their opportunity to vote. When they make the 'wrong' decision when buying that mostly hurts themselves. But at the ballot box they can hurt the rest of the country and the rest of the world.
No, unless and until there is a domestic chinese Luxury Car maker of note. This is the exception which proves the rule. They don't make directly competing products; so these come in. Watch what happens when they do.
This is a good point and it’s easy to get caught up in it. Because it makes perfect sense. One of the reasons the west has graduated toward freedom and a more free society is because it worked better in the long run. You can go back and look at how the government letting people do business rather than banning them lead to rises and falls of empires because rich families would simply relocate to the free countries rather than stay a place where the king might decide not to pay or perhaps even to seize their wealth. You see it to day as well to some extent, with rich Chinese and Russian oligarchs not in favour of the regime trying to move to the west.
Of course things have changed a lot since the East Indian Trading company, kings and what not. So maybe protectionism works better in a global market interconnected. Maybe the Chinese model is simply the future for us, but probably not.
Personally I hope for a more GDPR styles approach to social media in general. There is no doubt China is spying through TikTok, and that’s bad, but I don’t really want Facebook or Google to sell my information either.
One of the reasons the west has graduated toward freedom and a more free society is because it worked better in the long run
I notice your use of the past tense there; it did work well for the West but the situation in China is very different - they have been able to leapfrog to a Western level of technology without having a free and open society. So the rules are different now. The real test is now, starting at the same level, who can sustain it and who can pull away.
Did Tik Tok even explain why they were capturing and transmitting clipboard contents? (unfortunately not the only ones doing it) It's a little like inviting someone round for dinner and catching them routing through you things taking photos. They should probably be blocked and not invited around again.
I'm surprised more people haven't mentioned GDPR. Yes, it was a huge amount of hassle and a lot of work (inspiring many memes). However, it did make people realise how much of their data was being used.
GDPR had a lot of potential but it has been lost in it's current form. Cookie warnings seem like something a politician would do, not something someone with any real understanding of data security. Very little has changed especially for the big players. Hell Google Chrome was recently caught collecting data when in incognito mode. A Google spokesman stated "Incognito mode in Chrome gives you the choice to browse the internet without your activity being saved to your browser or device" - that doesn't make it ok to collect the information and send it to themselves. It's pretty deceptive and this is recently, long after GDPR was introduced.
PS: The comparison to the East India Company (EIC) is a good one. The CCP is very much like the EIC (ironically it was the EIC supplying the opium for the opium wars). They have their own military, have a huge amount of power politically, openingly admits to using underhand tactics and breaking laws to enforce monopolies, as they are virtually untouchable.
The issue here is that it's a president arbitrarily destroying a company.
If the Congress (the actual body meant to crate laws) decides to create a reasoned, comprehensive law to level the playing field with Chinese companies, then they should do it.
What shouldn't happen is this kind of impulsive decision making that arguably abuses the emergency powers of the presidency to block an app that allows people to film themselves and post those recordings.
If you claim that this app is a national security threat then any app is.
No, it’s really not. Note that there is currently a very public tiff between American media and the American state. This would be impossible in China. That is the difference, regardless of whether you can pull pieces of law from either side that would indicate the contrary. State power is a complex thing that is not entirely encoded in legal code.
“Jan 25 - Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, on Friday stressed efforts to boost integrated media development and amplify mainstream tone in public communication so as to consolidate the common theoretical foundation for all Party members and all the people to unite and work hard.”
That would be relevant for the discussion if the stated reason for banning TikTok were specific, concrete and actually happening actions of politically-motivated censorship. However, the stated reason is "national security" due to potential access to data of American people. Which - surprise! - is exactly what the CLOUD Act provides the US government with regard to ANY app with server-side data storage operated by ANY US-based corporation.
“[CLOUD Act allows] federal law enforcement to compel U.S.-based technology companies via warrant or subpoena to provide requested data stored on servers regardless of whether the data are stored in the U.S. or on foreign soil.”
In case you missed it, I’ll emphasize the relevant point: “via warrant or subpoena”
This is not “exactly,” as you say, the same provision.
And what exactly prevents the US government from creating any kind of subpoena they'd like? They don't even have to defend it anywhere, because "national security" trumps the normal judicative process. The targets of the subpoena aren't allowed to talk about, and the original owners of the data sought by the government will never even see the subpoena.
Look, if you don’t believe in the western systems of checks and balances despite the long, long track record of it performing with greater regard for human dignity than any regime without checks and balances, we’re just not going to be able to have a conversation here.
No sensible person would suggest the American system is perfect. But to suggest that an imperfect system of checks and balances is tantamount to an actual unashamed dictatorship is equally divorced from reality.
There’s nowhere for this conversation to go, so have a good weekend!
Meh. The last three and a half years have pretty clearly demonstrated that a large part of the foundation of America that we’ve always believed was held in place with ‘checks and balances’ were actually ‘gentlemen’s agreements’ that don’t mean shit if one side of the agreement decides to ignore them.
I do believe in actual checks and balances, especially of the transparent kind, just not in those dark pockets of unchecked power that have always existed in between the parts of government that do have proper c&b. Pretty much all the stuff labeled "national security" in the US are such pockets of largely unchecked power, even more so, they are deliberately engineered pockets of unchecked power that are designed to evade proper oversight - because, you know, "it's a matter of national security, just don't ask questions".
Also, I've never stated that the entire US governmental system was "tantamount" to a dictatorship - this is a straw man you're putting up there. I named very particular legislation that I indeed consider equivalent to what it is you're suggesting the Chinese government is doing. If you want to rebuke that argument - fine, I'm listening! But please stop putting up straw men just because it turns out that it's kind of hard to defend the existence of such opaque and unchecked pockets of power if your entire argument builds on the superiority of a system that is designed to balance and limit individuals' power over one that just lets those in power reign over anyone else.
Also, abbub brought up a great point here that I want to emphasize: "checks and balances" that are weak in practice and depend on those in power to "just behave" are ineffective and shouldn't be considered equal to actual, enforceable limitations. I was stunned how close a US president can get to a dictator in terms of effective powers if he just decides to stop caring about morals, political conventions and other "soft limits". This experience seems to be an argument against the concept of "let's just trust everyone to play nice" and a clear indicator for the need of actual, effective and enforceable limitations to power. Those regulations that I criticized now are the exact opposite of this.
None of which _are known to_ apply to this action. Sure. But it still doesn't change the root of the problem: the alleged security problems with Chinese products, caused by government being able to force manufacturers to do whatever their intelligence agencies require, are in fact real - but for US products, not Chinese ones.
Companies tend to fight back when it's profitable to fight back; and do their best to ignore the government otherwise. See: this week's tech CEO house hearing. I can't recall this example of the backdoors; and if you say "Clipper Chips" I'm going home.
Of course I don't mean clipper. I mean the backdoors in US telco equipment - some uncovered by Snowden, some discovered by independent researchers. If your theory were true, Chinese network equipment would be full of government backdoors, and US manufactured equipment would be free of them. In the real world, however, the reverse is true.
I disagree. The definition of "arbitrarily" states: "on the basis of random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system". I think the President's decision is based on reason and is not a random choice or a personal whim as much as it might seem to some. Now, why is that?
Well, it became public yesterday that Microsoft was in talks with TikTok to acquire them. Though every business decision by big players like Microsoft may seem like a calculated risk, no one can predict the future. In this scenario, that risk is clearly foreign state infiltration. Keep in mind, we're in 2020 and morse code is no longer a thing. Due to the uncertain nature of what this deal might bright about, the President reasoned that it was appropriate from him to take this executive action to protect national security interests. I do believe that if Microsoft can sell the government on mitigating or completely removing any risk exposure that this deal might bring, that the ban will be lifted. Again, this is just my opinion.
The meaning of "arbitrary" here is that the decision is based on the whims of the White House, rather than on well-established rules that apply to everyone - regardless of how well-reasoned the authors of such a ban might think themselves.
because not giving someone access to your market is stupid, in particular if you're not a developing country because there's nothing to be gained from protectionism, other than enabling the increasingly authoritarian tnedencies of the American government against its own citizens.
Why does something need to be proposed at all, is the US threatened by zoomers doing funny dances on a smartphone app?
1. Equipping the CCP with a sensor placed in the pockets of millions of American citizens. This is already a problem when American companies are doing it for ad targeting purposes. But to do the same and funnel the data to an increasingly militaristic near-peer adversary? It in fact makes it qualitatively, not just quantitatively, different.
2. Tiktok opaquely selects which content it shows users. Again, American social media companies do this to a lesser degree (non-chronological feeds), but they don’t tweak their algorithms at the direction of the government to opaquely modify the information environment a citizen exists in. Note that there is currently very public tension between the US establishment and these companies because yes, authoritarians love this capability and no, they don’t yet have it in the US. Tiktok has no ability to refuse CCP’s requests to, e.g. erase any references to their concentration camps or to amplify claims that Bill Gates is trying to inject microchips via the COVID vaccine.
Whether a US executive should be able to single handedly make such a decree, I really don’t know. It doesn’t seem right to me but I ought to think about it more. What is 100% obvious to anyone looking at TikTok and the CCP with clear eyes is that it is a huge threat.
There is no evidence at all that China puts the thumbs on the scale when it comes to content being served in the US, TikTok has kept US data out of China, and now is actually willing to open source key parts of its code base to auditors, which is a ridiculous double standard anyway given the disinformation campaigns on domestic platforms who are under no such obligations.
That aside, the US is a free country. Everyone can spread propaganda. I was under the impression that American citizens of voting age are able to discern information themselves and distinguish between hoax and reality.
Since when is it the task of the US government to police media companies?
I would suggest that “media company” is a westernized, capitalist, and therefore inaccurate description of what Bytedance is. It, like all other media in China, is an extension of the state.
I am not arguing whether or not the US government has the right to ban TikTok, I am explaining what the threats are. Do not conflate the two and confuse the conversation. It is absolutely possible that this is a threat and we can legally (or in compliance with our values) not do anything about it.
“All news media run by the party must work to speak for the party’s will and its propositions, and protect the party’s authority and unity,” - Xi Jinping
“ On April 9th, the day before Zuckerberg’s testimony began, Bytedance was ordered to suspend its most popular product, a news-aggregator app called Jinri Toutiao (Today’s Headlines). The next day, regulators yanked Neihan Duanzi, the company’s social-media platform, where users share jokes and videos. Last Wednesday, Zhang’s official apology appeared on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter. His company had taken “the wrong path,” he wrote, and, along the way, he had “failed his users.” Perhaps it was not entirely coincidental that his words echoed a notice posted by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, the country’s media regulator”
> Bytedance was ordered to suspend its most popular product, a news-aggregator app called Jinri Toutiao (Today’s Headlines). The next day, regulators yanked Neihan Duanzi, the company’s social-media platform, where users share jokes and videos.
If ByteDance really was an extension of the state, surely they wouldn't even have launched a product that violates the regulations of the state they're supposedly an extension of.
If a company apologizes for violating regulations and promises to do better, it usually means they made the minimum changes necessary to signal compliance, not that they suddenly changed their ways and will always do as told from then on...
> Do you also suppose that it would be a good idea for you to hit your head repeatedly against a wall, if I start doing so?
This is a bad analogy and proves nothing. There's no connection between two people banging their head against the wall.
However, there is a connection between one actor performing a bad action and then facing punitive action from another actor because of it. It makes them less likely to perform similar actions in the future, and could cause them to reverse the previous bad actions that are still in effect.
Whereas if you're banging your head against the wall, me doing the same does nothing to stop you. Hence why it's a meaningless analogy.
It's not unusual for some kind of transaction to be forbidden by only penalizing or hindering one side.
TikTok users don't consent to the CCP directing their user experience. In fact, TikTok will do its best to avoid letting on to anything like that. And US jurisdiction doesn't cover this company at all. That is one of the rare situations where you really want a government to step in and tell people what not to do.
Just like you would still ban a dangerous product, even though users could know the danger if they really wanted to.
Banning TikTok isn't really about personal information or even surveillance of any kind. Social media can be abused in many different ways, and much more actively.
This shouldn't be about market access but rather about the power media companies wield.
The debates around Facebook, Twitter and so on regarding political speech and misinformation is bad enough, and those companies at least don't have malicious intents and are criticized mostly for their inaction. With a company operating under Chinese law this is a whole other can of worms.
There's nothing weird about "an eye for an eye" approach. The fact that chinese media and tech companies are allowed to operate unhindered in the USA is what's really weird. Unfortunately, banning it in the USA is a bit of a pointless act imho.
But this measure isn't bring contemplated from that motive, it appears, the whole narrative is about some perceived threats to national security, which most analysts think is over hyped and only 'theoritical'.
In the real world this is little more than just another politically motivated maneuver that will do little to undo the damage caused to the world and Western interests vis a vis China of the US withdrawing from the TPP.
I cannot believe that with over 500 bewildered comments yours is the only one to make this obvious connection. I have a difficult time forming any other conclusion than yours. I agree that an executive order would be a direct response to TikTok users trolling him at Tulsa.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. These TikTok users already won round 1 (Tulsa) and this would mean war.
There are people with much more “intolerant” (restrictive) diets than halal and kosher, and yet, those don’t “win.” This is an extremely simplistic explanation with, I suspect, very little predictive power.
It seems you misunderstood the article. When a minority has an intolerant stance about which the majority has no preference towards, the minority wins. For example, the majority doesn't care if all food is kosher. But, the majority would care if all food was vegan.
Not quite sure that COVID counts as a Black Swan event, at least according to his own definition. From Wikipedia:
The theory was developed by Nassim Nicholas Taleb to explain:
1. The disproportionate role of high-profile, hard-to-predict, and rare events that are beyond the realm of normal expectations in history, science, finance, and technology.
2. The non-computability of the probability of the consequential rare events using scientific methods (owing to the very nature of small probabilities).
3. The psychological biases that blind people, both individually and collectively, to uncertainty and to a rare event's massive role in historical affairs.
From your article:
Taleb, in a March 30 interview on Bloomberg Television, said a pandemic like the coronavirus outbreak was predictable and investors who weren’t hedged paid the price with steep losses. What’s impossible to predict is the timing of such an event, he said, which is why insurance must be in place at all times.
So essentially his "big idea" is the concept of insurance? That doesn't quite qualify as intellectually significant to me.
Jesus what a bad article, it starts out making a sane point with, maybe some slight anti-religious hints, but quickly turns into a personal rant about how all of modern science is in the pocket of GMO-pushing agricultural companies with a personal vendetta against him.
That sums everything I've read from him. He has genuinely good and unique ideas but over time he's spent more and more time trying to dunk on his enemies. I had actual difficulty making it through some of his more recent books.
The message that would trascend from such an action is that our vision of how a society should work was no better than the one in China. The West always believed their ideals and principles around "democracy" and "freedom" were superior to those of the CCP.
Now the West also needs to ban <X> (in this case, a social media platform) to function and is no better than its rival. If anything, this would prove the CCP was always right when it applied such measures in the past.
> If anything, this would prove the CCP was always right when it applied such measures in the past.
It does no such thing. China was given market access under the precise promise of the Chinese would likewise open their own markets. They did not do that. Then they explicitly started banning American companies, conducting unfair trade practices, and more. All we're seeing now is a long await readjustment to reciprocity. Your logic is bizarre. If two parties were in a Mexican stand off, and both agreed to put down their guns only for one to not actually put them down, then the other party that put their gun down can pick it back up just fine. That other party IS better than it's rival because it acted in good faith, and it was it's rival who was deceitful.
This "winner takes all" aspect of social networking seems like exactly the kind of thing that government regulation and/or clever technical design should be used to prevent, to ensure continued competition in the market.
If it stops Chinese corporations getting an advantage great. But it seems ublikely to happen while US companies have the advantage, and once they start to lose it, it will probably be too late.
I don't see a way for government regulation to restrict social media companies from gaining market dominance.
Even splitting doesn't help. You can try to split the main social network off from some other profit-generating activities, but they would probably start those up again, after some time. You can't split the social network, because then users of the smaller parts just join the bigger part again.
Currently we don't know how to do it, except encourage new companies to rise.
> If you want to reach out to someone in China, you have to use a Chinese company's app
If you want to talk to someone in China, you have to use WeChat and have your entire conversation mined by the CCP. There’s no encryption and no alternative. The writing has been on the wall for years that the US will be left with no choice but to blacklist Chinese apps in the same manner.
Regionalizing a service is not the same as banning. It's not dependent on "the relevant sense", it's just plain outright wrong. By your measuring stick Netflix and Amazon Video and even YouTube would be banned because they split their service into separate markets, with some content not available somewhere else. At most you could argue censorship, but that's about it.
Heck, region-encoded DVDs weren't a form of ban, don't you agree?
Tiktok is the same exact service with region-specific restrictions, primarily motivated to comply with local jurisdictions. That's it.
Those bans have to do with IP rights. Regionalising of social media is effective censorship, since it's not that there are localized versions, it's that accessing outside versions and people, information and ideas in them is banned. If there was mere regionalising, they would be able to access the non localized version too, if they wished.
Then Netflix is banned in the relevant sense in my country since I cannot get the same experience an American does. Look, shit on tiktok all you want, hell I installed both tik-tok and wechat and I uninstalled them within 1 day when I noticed how Orwellian they were. I only ask to some westerners commenters to not be disingenuous, because Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and virtually any other big American company has given carte blanche to the NSA to get on their data. Also spare me the tired " this is whataboutism" argument.
>unfair that Western social media companies are banned in China
Bing has been in China forever.
Western platforms could always compete in China if they assent to domestic censorship laws like every Chinese platform. That's "fair" considering how onerous and costly compliance is. Western platforms simply have not invested in the necessary mass human moderation until the last few years, after confronted with the same violence that forced Chinese platforms to lock down post 2009 minority riots. Hence why Facebook and Google was open to engineering Chinese compliant versions after improving their moderation infrastructure following failed revolutions, genocides, mass shootings.
The reality is TikTok operates in US under US laws like how Bing operates in China under Chinese laws. There's nothing inherently unfair. The issue is asymmetric vulnerability due to fundamentally different governance systems. US could never leverage even western platforms operating legally in China to undermine China due to Chinese content controls - see China deleting diplomatic tweets on Chinese social media. But China can potentially leverage TikTok operating legally to undermine US. But instead of transferring TikTok to US ownership, which is merely anticompetitive, Trump decides to ban via executive action which is... upright undemocratic. That said, it's totally justifiable on security basis. But just remember China-hawks in current admin have no problem becoming the thing they wish to fight. That's what Americans should fear.
It's effectively an information dissemination platform. The point is, any online service must comply to Chinese Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission. Facebook and Twitter were blocked - not banned, the distinction is important - when they failed to filter out requests for retaliatory killings after 2009 minority riots. This isn't controversial, you want to operate in a country, you comply to relevant laws and regulations. Unregulated tech is facing push back domestically and abroad now, the era of US tech exceptionalism is ending as countries seek silo-ed data and control over media in domestic spheres. China was prescient on this point. This is why TikTok has no problems bending backwards trying to appease US regulators, because it's use to doing so in China. That's the irony of it all, Chinese tech companies have no problem following regulations abroad, but US companies just can't seem to.
After reading many books on China I learned China values social stability over everything. In its 4,000 year history they have seen the dangers of social instability. We are a very young country and haven't seen what real chaos can look like.
(These ideas are from Henry Kissinger's on China, Destined for War by Graham T. Allison and The China Dream by Liu Mingfu)
I've never understood why people espouse China's "4000 year history". The government purged nearly all aspects of traditional Chinese society during the Cultural Revolution. If you want to be reminded of China's history, you travel to Taiwan. Even practitioners of Chinese traditional medicine tend to study overseas in Japan.
Plenty of mainlanders can read fanti FYI. Writing is harder as that requires active memory and practice but fanti is perfectly decipherable for a fluent mandarin speaker. And when in doubt using a dictionary is trivial. If the text is digital you can pretty much get a 1-1 mapping 99% of the time. Especially if it is putonghua (as opposed to dialect)
Obviously something as big as the introduction of jianti is quite radical and will have downsides but it's really overplayed by armchair spectators. For a fluent speaker it is at most an inconvenience - like reading chaucer or shakespeare, except the grammar is exactly the same only the spelling differs.
Simplified Chinese characters are just that... simplified versions of the traditional characters. In fact, many don't change at all from the traditional version to the simplified version.
It's a change, and one that history purists tend to not like, but definitely not a culture-breaking change or something that breaks links to the past. There are still a lot of ancient pictograms left in the simplified characters, a lot of connections to concepts, ideas and views from past millennia.
I noticed that "maintaining civilizational state" is.. to be generous.. simply a state of narrative. The imperial system is definitely over, Xi wears a suit and tie and there are no legions of eunichs running the country.
Though fun fact, Mussolini was pretty big on emphasizing the whole Italy == Rome deal.
And in the US there's only maybe 300 years of serious history to cover so I recall my history class had to reach all the way back to Greece as an idealogical source of American democracy.
> China has been able to maintain its civilization state and it has a continuous history
To check the validity of this statement while neutralizing my own bias, I watched the following video  which maps out China’s political borders year by year from 1600 BCE to 2017. Watching at 2x speed on mute took 4 minutes and was quite illuminating.
There have been plenty of rises and falls of civilization in China in the intervening thousands of years. It's way reductionist to claim that this is all the same one unflagging continuous empire.
In a way, you're doing Chinese history a huge disservice by making it a lot less interesting than it actually is when you claim that it's all just one empire persisting steadily through time.
And anyway, "the west" has a continuous history going all the way back through the ancient Greeks. That's at least two and a half millennia. It's not been the same people or the same empire since then, obviously (same for China), but the continuous written history easily goes back at least that far.
While as an island the UK means its borders have mostly been fixed, it has definitely had quite a fluid culture and language history. The romans came and left their mark. Then the Vikings and the normans. We've had a strange love hate relationship with the French forever, branding them frogs while learning French so we can seem sophisticated. So in my mind it does lack that continuity that China has:
For instance the sunzi bingfa (art of war) was written in 500BC and still is mostly understandable today.
On the other hand if I were to drop a reference from Vergil or Homer in latin/greek. I would be branded of being in cahoots with Boris Johnson and very few people would understand it.
Edit: And even that - I don't think Italians really would understand Latin texts (tho will have a better chance than brits). I think ancient greek is a little easier for modern greek speakers tho.
This is excessively cherry-picked, and I’m just going to steal a quote from Wikipedia to illustrate:
> The Chinese have different languages in different provinces, to such an extent that they cannot understand each other.... [They] also have another language which is like a universal and common language; this is the official language of the mandarins and of the court; it is among them like Latin among ourselves....
The idea that you could transplant a peasant between millennia in China or even over any significant distance, and have them remain intelligible is simply untrue. In addition, you could take an educated person in most of Europe in the last 2000 years and expect to be able to communicate with them in Latin — it’s only the last hundred years or so when this has fallen out of favour. So recently in fact that nobody raised an eyebrow about the fact I had mandatory Latin lessons from the age of ten at my school, in the 90s.
Dialects are overplayed outside of china. Most average people can speak 2-3 just as part of growing up. Learning a new dialect is considerably easier than a Spanish person learning Portuguese or the nordics learning the other languages from the region.
For starters the written language is essentially the same between the chinese dialects - so learning a new one is mostly an exercise of mapping sounds and then learning new idioms. Passing as a native speaker though will be harder as the canto/mando split highlights.
You're right - latin's influence is still amongst us. Indeed I believe it was common to teach Germans Latin in the hope it would make them have a stronger technical appreciation of German. And the UK legal system has its roots in the Roman legal system.
That said I assure you Latin the language is far more arcane than the standard Chinese. Meanwhile in China, suntzu bingfa will be learned and referenced in culture and people have statues of zhugeliang and guanyu in their homes displayed at chinese new year. I haven't met a friend yet you has an Aeneas or Caesar displayed in their house.
Maybe Hercules and Zeus as figures are more prominent examples of people we have remembered but they aren't really celebrated in that first hand nature. I don't think Brits identify with Hercules or even Boudica. But I would posit chinese people do identify with the ancient greats like kongzi.
I think the idea of identity is key. Interestingly the Chinese people in Singapore and Malaysia diverged from China ~150-200 years ago. But this sense of identity with the old chinese history has been preserved between both of them so you can't just write this off to CCP propaganda.
Perhaps culturally Chinese culture has always sought to unify/assimilate things into its monoculture whereas the history in Western europe has been a more fluid and accepting melting pot.
Dictatorships value stability above anything else. Because once you have absolute control, the only real danger to losing it is civil war. China has had tons of bloody wars just like the West.
And people have been living in Europe for thousands of years too. The "4000 year history" is a CCP thing they sell to the populace to make their dictatorship seem more legitimate. It's pretty stupid, most cultures have been around for at least 1000 years.
Sounds like you're the one offended. Great 4000 year history of China is CCP party line. Reading neutral sources you'll find it's more nuanced than that.
There's some evidence remaining that China was once a collection of societies. Notably language. The CCP insists that all of China speaks Mandarin, but thats only the case since the cultural revolution.
Chinese writing is indeed nearly universal. But spoken language once had many dialects, and still does to an extent. These dialects are sometimes mutually unintelligible. If it wasn't for CCP party line they would be considered different languages, as part of Chinese language family. Much like many of the southern Asian languages are different languages that cluster together.
That's rather ridiculous. The US has seen massive social instability over the past 400 years. The Revolution, the Civil War, slavery and the Slave Trade, the Great Depression, etc. And the founders of the US, being mostly European, were descended from people who lived through absolutely catastrophic social instability in Europe. Never-ending wars over religion and territory and on and on...
What "real chaos" has "China" (which is, by the way, nowhere homogenous) seen that we have not seen?
EDIT: I suppose the Great Leap Forward was an example of "real chaos", to an extent we haven't seen in the West. But where was China's 4,000 years of history to stop the deaths of millions of their own?
You commented this twice already as some sort of universal truth. But in fact the region known as modern-day China had one major conflict after another like they occurred in any other region in the globe. Also what does it mean to "maintain" civilization when at least 45 million people died under Mao due to famine, overwork and state violence? Is putting Uighurs in concentration camps "maintaining" civilization?
>Frank Dikötter, Chair Professor of Humanities at the University of Hong Kong and the author of Mao's Great Famine, estimated that at least 45 million people died from starvation, overwork and state violence during the Great Leap Forward, claiming his findings to be based on access to recently opened local and provincial party archives.
> Also what does it mean to "maintain" civilization when at least 45 million people died under Mao due to famine, overwork and state violence? Is putting Uighurs in concentration camps "maintaining" civilization?
I mean, the word "civilization" just makes reference to a complex society with certain societal and governmental structures. A civilization can be peaceful but it can also be brutal. Many (if not all) historical civilizations started wars, took slaves, forced people to adopt certain religions or customs, or made outright genocides, and that doesn't make them less of a civilization.
>What "real chaos" has "China" (which is, by the way, nowhere homogenous) seen that we have not seen?
This is ill-informed and easily proven wrong.
I'm no China apologist, but the Chinese have suffered the worst human disasters in history.
Let's go down the list of top 10 anthropogenic disasters by geometric mean death toll and count the causalities in China :
1. 2nd World War estimated 70 million dead, 17.5 million dead in China 
2. Three Kingdom War 38 million dead, all Chinese
3. Mongol Conquests 35 million dead and transition from Song to Yuan. Chinese population registers drop from 140 million to 70 million. 
4. European Colonization of the Americas 35 million dead, no Chinese dead
5. Taiping Rebellion 35 million dead, all Chinese
6 Red Eyebrows Rebellion 30 million dead, all Chinese
7. Muslim conquest of India 41 million dead, no Chinese
8. Ming Conquest of Yuan 30 million dead, all Chinese
9. Qing conquest of Ming 25 million dead, all Chinese
10. Second Sino-Japanese War 22 million dead, mostly Chinese
and as a bonus:
11. An Lushan Rebellion 21 million dead, all Chinese
Let's count the bodies.
Total dead in 11 conflicts: about 380 million dead
Chinese dead: about 200-220 million dead.
The Chinese are in a whole other ball park in terms of historical suffering. Nothing in American history compares to even a civil war most Americans have never heard of, like the An Lushan rebellion. For perspective, "only" 700,000 American soldiers died in the US Civil War and there were no accounts of civilian casualties of similar magnitude.
Do you know who else has a 4,000 year history of instability, even greater instability? Europe. The height of centralized political stability in Europe was the Roman Empire, or maybe Napoleon. Yet you don't hear many Europeans saying "We need to bring back the Roman Empire", or "We need to bring back Napoleon". China values social stability because they have a dictatorship for whom social stability is a convenient idea to push. Ironically, the last serious bout of instability was the Cultural Revolution, which was a entirely a product of conflicts within the dictatorship.
It definitely mirrors the kinds of restrictions China puts on US companies with joint ventures, censorship of sensitive topics, and keeping data on Chinese servers.
However, I think why this feels unsettling even if it just mirrors what China's done is because up to now there was a sense that the US has a stronger economy, society, and culture than China, and these restrictions China put on US companies reflected their weakness and insecurity. But now the US is doing what China's done for decades. It shatters that aura of American superiority, implies that China's been right all along on matters of national security, and foreshadows a future where previously sacred assumptions of American democracy become obsoleted by new technology. I'm reminded of hand weavers smashing machine looms during the dawn of the industrial revolution.
Great point, the US should take the high road and allow the free flow of information regardless of the host of that info (friend or foe)
To give some push back:
Currently the US is in an election year and both the left and right are concerned about foreign interference.
Being said Tik Tok is a Chinese based company and following priority Chinese law. Couldn't they propogate direct election interference under the precived guise of being a US private corporation bc of US public's consumption and get away with it?
A counter point could be made for an actual US corporation doing the same thing, but a nation state doing it would be a different issue entirely.
Just consider this: You have FB and other stuffs and can influence the world with it. They are very valuable propaganda channels and political tools and you can push whatever message on them to influence hundreds of millions of people.
Now someone else banned those channels so that you lose the edge. Not only that, the other guy also creates something similarly popular and wait -- it is not under your control!
> Could this be the same as a tit for tat measure like with tariffs?
It certainly hopes to provoke a cycle of retaliatory escalation, because it's an election year stunt looking to distract from, well, a whole lot of other things with a manufactured international crisis to create a rally-around-the-flag effect.
It will probably fail as a political strategy somewhat less spectacularly than “let’s avoid having a national strategy to control the COVID-19 pandemic and behind-the-scenes obstruct state efforts because the early impacts are in Democratic-governed states and we can leverage the impacts for political gains by blaming the governors.”
I’m torn. On one hand, we’ve seen how TikTok has been used by the CCP to extend the reach of its censorship, oppression, and surveillance. On the other hand, I’m not sure if the government should be deciding what software we’re allowed to have.
cant help but think facebook might be behind this push to ban tiktok, given how they're already created a rip-off clone of the service perfectly coincidentally in time with when tiktok's supposed to be banned
Because I (a citizen) might want to access the information provided by this service.
I (an individual) would be happy to see TikTok banned, along with Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/etc, because I see them as vain wastes of time with a sinister twist. But I've also met teenagers, and even been one! So I can guess how they might respond to a government-imposed ban on a new and interesting vice.
And I (a citizen) am deeply suspicious of being told that I must not know something. It smells like corruption and tyranny. The belief that knowledge should be free is tattooed on my soul (and my skin).
Tit-for-tat only works in the absence of moral imperatives.
Maybe they were just afraid to post under their real name because they'd be attacked by jingoistic, hypocritical Americans who think censorship and anti-free-market practices are fine if the US does it but evil if another country does.
This is sort of similar to tarrifs no? The government selectively (through lobbyists and deals) picks which types of things are taxed (sometimes to unprofitability). Other things are banned entirely. Not saying Kinder Eggs would be missed as much as Tik Tok, but this is historically something the government does.
I think that you're still one level more abstract than what is happening here.
Tariffs are set for classes/types of goods/materials/etc... and Kinder Eggs were banned because they didn't comply to a regulation (small dangerous foreign objects contained in the product - maybe other similar products had to be banned as well but those ones didn't reach the headlines).
In this case the decision applies to a very specific company/product and that decision is not based on a rule/regulation/etc..., I think => on one hand it doesn't have any impact on other similar companies/products, on the other hand it scares me that a single person is able to enforce on-the-fly these kind of decisions.
Such naivety on display here, I am alarmed for HN. National security isn't blanket grounds for doing anything. There are limits to president's and executives and even legislatures authority. Arbitrarily nothing can be done in our system. Unless US government probably demonstrates to the public that this measure is required, such a ban cannot be condoned.
Because if I wanted to live in China I would move there? It’s a social platform and I KNOW why other country’s try to control social networks but I wasn’t expecting us to stoop that low for control. They want to talk about fake news but limit us from speaking to each other with something they can’t control. A lot of protestors use it and it was directly used to troll trump by Americans , it’s a conflict of interest. It’s ok for Facebook to sell our data to another country or allow fake ads to manipulate the elderly with conspiracy theories but tiktok is where they draw the line? Redic.
Hopefully this will raise awareness on PWAs. Hopefully using PWAs on mobile will be normalized by the 18-24 year olds. TikTok's PWA seems intentionally gimped (you can't even search) but I will bet it will suddenly start working once it disappears from the Western app stores. Is there anything TikTok does that the Web Platform + WASM cannot do? (besides spying)
> I'm not even sure POTUS can ban a site just by an executive order... unless I'm REALLY weak on US law...
Being ignorant of the special area of law that is “Presidential emergency powers regarding trade with foreign nations” isn't necessarily being really weak on US law generally, though that narrow area of law ends up contravening a lot of what you might correctly understand elsewhere when it is triggered.
It's not clear exactly what the content of the order will be, without which we can't really begin to assess whether he has the power to issue it, but there are certainly, at a minimum, things he could due to obstruct their ability to fully interact with US markets under Presidential emergency powers. Given that Trump's I formal descriptions preceding executive actions have not been a particularly good guide to the details of the actions, I don't know that any deeper analysis wouldn't largely wasted.
If the state can order tech companies to blacklist apps, the state can order tech companies to add certain sites to their "malicious browsing" filters or order ISPs to IP-block arbitrary hosts. The state simply has no legal authority under which it may ban apps. If the big tech companies roll over for this and say "yes, sir", they'll do anything.
I'm a huge proponent of regulating big tech companies, but all regulation needs to done under the framework of public and universal rules established in advance, not randomly banning individual apps without proof of wrongdoing or a way to mount a defense.
No, the state doesn't blacklist programs. Code is speech. Bernstein v. Department of Justice established that  in the 1990s. Sure, if you have an app, and you distribute copyrighted material as part of that app, yes, you can be prosecuted under copyright law and be forced (via injunction) to stop distributing that app. But the word "law" is essential: there is a specific rule, set out in advance, which applies to everyone, and for which there are clear penalties. I have seen nobody explain what law TikTok is supposedly breaking.
If TikTok is doing something bad, fine. Make a rule against the bad thing, then ban TikTok on the basis of breaking that rule. You can't just bypass the whole "make a rule" and "show that $X broke the rule" thing and go straight to "punish X". That's called passing a "bill of attainder", and it's such a terrible idea that the practice is specifically banned in the constitution. Now, maybe this situation isn't technically a bill of attainder, but it's the same damned principle at work, and it's still a bad idea.
> You can't just bypass the whole "make a rule" and "show that $X broke the rule" thing and go straight to "punish X".
Yes, as long as the punishment isn't essentially criminal in nature, you can, and it's long been a regularly used tool of foreign policy, under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. When sanctions are declared against foreign companies or individuals or trade with them otherwise restricted, it's based on declared threats to the country, not general rules that are announced in advance and then the specific individuals involved found guilty in some judicial process of breaking after the rule was declared. It's all by executive finding.
That this particular banning may be legal (and I think that's arguable) doesn't make it good policy (which I strongly believe it is not), because the reasoning behind nulla poena sine lega applies here too. The whole reason we have rules and not a chaos of capriciousness is to make it possible to plan, predict, and invest. A state that arbitrarily punishes international parties for unclear reasons will decrease confidence in all foreign interactions.
He's not talking about banning the TikTok app narrowly, but banning TikTok from operating in the USA (which, assuming he's acting under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, could also including either preventing or directing and compelling sale, transfer, etc., of any of their property — or any property in which any foreign person holds an interest.)
It'd be awesome if the reverse engineered code was on Github or something. I found this repo but wasn't able to look deep into it yet, so take with a grain of salt: https://github.com/augustgl/tiktok_source
"After extensive research, we have found that not only is TikTok a massive security flaw waiting to happen, but the ties that they have to Chinese parties and Chinese ISP’s make it a very vulnerable source of data that still has more to be investigated. Data harvesting, tracking, fingerprinting, and user information occurs throughout the entire application. As a US company, we feel that it is our responsibility to raise awareness of this extensive data harvesting to TikTok’s 1 billion users."
There is bad coding in the app but is that enough for the ban?
They also seems to get telemetry data, who does not :-)
That white paper is scare-mongering garbage, and I don't say that lightly. Some of the horrible things TikTok is supposedly doing:
* Using Java reflection (which almost everyone does)
* Webview (many of your apps are just thin webview wrappers)
* Log device information (uh, logging things like the OS version for diagnostics and metrics is perfectly normal)
The paper uses the word "monitoring" appearing in a debug message as evidence that the app is built to spy on users. Here's the log message that they want to claim proves TikTok evil-doing:
AFlogger.afInfoLog("Turning on monitoring")
Uh, the word "monitoring" has plenty of perfectly innocuous uses, e.g., monitoring memory use. If this thing really were trying to monitor user behavior in some sneaky way for the CCP, why the hell would they log about it, in English?
In another section of scare-longering, these "researchers" try to cast asperations on the app calling the Java equivalent of system(3) to run a subprocess. Uh, so what? That's also a fairly common thing to do on Android --- people use it to, e.g., run logcat for diagnostics (logcat filters the logs to only ones from the running UID, so there's no privacy leak).
In yet another section of scare-mongering, the document suggests that TikTok's use of MD5 is some kind of deliberate back-door. No, it's probably just like every other use of MD5 these days: some junior developer who hasn't kept up on the recent MD5 attacks.
Yes, TikTok ignores TLS errors. That's just shitty programming. But like the MD5 thing, I'm going to chalk it up to just shitty coding, not some kind of deliberate spyware backdoor. This code would certainly not pass my code review. But I see no evidence of malice. These are errors that junior developers make everywhere.
There's also a SQL injection. The researchers haven't shown that the inputs to the SQL query are unsanitized, and even so, injecting SQL from a UI text book to the local SQLite database is no big deal. The user owns the device! It's certainly not evidence of some kind of nefarious backdoor.
On top of all of that, the app is sandboxed, like every other Android app. Even if there were some ultra-mega remote code execution facility wired directly to Xi Jinping's desk, there'd be minimal risk, because the app couldn't look at the rest of the system! This whole analysis is aggressively, painfully, and conspicuously stupid. All this article tells me is 1) TikTok's software engineering team is too junior, and 2) people really, really, really want to believe that the app is evil.
This execrable article is one of the worst security reviews that I have ever read, and I've read a lot of them. It makes me yearn for the days of Colin Powell bullshitting the UN about Iraqi yellowcake. At least Powell didn't make 6th grade writing and logic errors.
This will be a huge gift horse to Zuckerberg/Facebook and I have a sneaking suspicion it's a project of Peter Thiel. There are a lot of remedies that could be taken if we suspect TikTok of malfeasance, but a straight up ban? I smell fish.
I disagree. This would prove why big government is dangerous. This is the perfect example of how powerful individuals can leverage governmental power to enrich themselves. He's like Trump, pointing out all these problems while exploiting them to the max.
So you're letting him off the hook for hypocrisy? There's lots of other libertarians and non-libertarians playing by the rules and not benefitting from crony capitalism. Are you excusing Thiel for being a total hypocrite (e.g. making his money from government contracts) all the while telling everyone else to be a rugged individualist?
Are we supposed to admire looting the government as a kind of 5 dimensional chess, where the profiteers weren't actually grifters, but merely trying to make a philosophical point?
You know in security research, there are white hats, who find the exploits, notify about them, and are rewarded with recognition and sometimes bounties.
And there are black hats who use the exploits to pillage. These people don't get credit for 'raising awareness'
And in my view, Palantir is not a white hat libertarian exercise demonstrating how crony capitalism is bad and how we need smaller government.
Ban Facebook and Google too? Their data collection is so much more powerful. Never seen TikTok scripts anywhere while most apps and sites send your personal data to FB and Google. Pretty much every American is tracked by Google and FB no matter whether they have an account or whether they install their app.
Like the other commenter I'm not so sure it's obvious that domestic data collection is 'so much more powerful' - presumably you can learn remarkably specific things about people via tiktok.
And GoogleBook aren't using data collection in service of major world power that is, in many senses, an antagonist to the western world, and we have avenues for oversight/reform available to us that we don't necessarily have with tiktok. That's not to say I think we should ban tiktok, but that contemplation of a ban doesn't bring with it the implication that GoogleBook would need the same treatment.
Yup. Low-effort expressions of incredulity such as this one are a dime a dozen on the internet, and barely worth their weight in bits. We really do have the ability to haul them before congress, impose fines, bring forward anti-trust cases.
It surely is imperfect, but as I said we have tools we can bring to bear, and it's in a context of a working relationship with the US rather than foreign adversaries which is what distinguish those cases from TikTok. If you read that and all you heard was 'Big Tech is Perfect' then I'm just wasting my time here.
There’s ongoing joke about USA becoming large Turkey because all the stuff that we used to say that would never happen in a proper democracy is happening one by one.
I know you don’t want to hear it, I know you think that you are exceptional and you are not like the others who ban apps and websıtes but I am going to say it anyway as a record for the future.
When Turkey banned YouTube or Twitter of course it was banned to “protect the rights of the citizens”.
Theses things always happen for noble reasons.
Welcome to the world where the government decides what app or service you can use.
I am sure that it’s necessary to keep you safe from these evil foreigners. Could have regulated user data safety but ban is the way to go.
The only downside is, we can no longer argue that in a proper democracies governments don’t ban stuff. USA was the example used to demand rights when people were protesting against totalitarian governments and it’s gone. Now the governments would ban Twitter Facebook and everything else when they feel like doing so and will say that it is for national security reason, look even the USA is doing it!
BTW, Turkey is preparing to ban Twitter again. Of course it is to preserve the rights of its citizens, it always is. China, Cuba, Iran, Russia, Turkey - the usual suspects that ban access, they also ban for the greater good. It is always for national security or to preserver the rights of its citizens.
In all seriousness, TikTok's Gen-Z userbase played a big role in a huge embarrassment for Trump recently, and given that there seems no end to his personal vanity and vindictiveness, I would not be surprised if this decision was rooted at least in part in vengeance against its users.
Why would any candidate seek "vengeance" in an election year toward a cohort who will be voting for the first time (in many cases) in 2020 and who seem overall more conservative than the previous generation? It seems way more likely to me that the jester is cover for or distraction from something much more serious, and I'd rather talk about that than feed the jester's personal vanity by interpreting every major world event through orange-colored glasses :)
Any organization or citizen shall support, assist and cooperate with the state intelligence work in accordance with the law, and keep the secrets of the national intelligence work known to the public.
The State protects individuals and organizations that support, assist and cooperate with national intelligence work."
"Article 7 Any organization or citizen shall support, assist and cooperate with the state intelligence work in accordance with the law, and keep the secrets of the national intelligence work known to the public. The State protects individuals and organizations that support, assist and cooperate with national intelligence work."
I 100% believe this, and it seems odd that anyone wouldn't suspect that by default, in the same way one should expect DARPA strings still attached to DARPA's Silicon Valley corporate-children.
I'd like to see some evidence before describing that as anything more than a gut suspicion, though, and definitely not "public knowledge". This type of Executive reaction reads more like a response to a targeted threat and not just the general background noise of "all your base are belong to China" like over the past few years.
Dems are in a rough spot on this one, it will be hard to attack an action against an app with documented CCP/PLA involvement when they went so hard against FB for their inaction on use of the platform by foreign powers.
Why would they want to defend it? Addictive social media app based in China being forced to go is beneficial for everyone. It's even better if you're not the one removing rights so the blame goes to your political opponent.
The US is acting like a desperate country that has no idea what it is doing. It is evident to the whole world that the US doesn't want to compete at the level of high technology, which is what the Chinese have achieved in the last couple of years. Whenever a country tries to create a fence around it, then it is just displaying weakness. It would be much more constructive for the US to recognize that they're getting behind in the technology game and compete as adults.
> The US is acting like a desperate country that has no idea what it is doing
The US Administration is acting like a desperate regime that knows exactly what it is doing trying to generate a foreign crisis to distract from domestic political problems to generate a rally-around-the-flag effect.
I don't think this is about competition. It's about a belligerent foreign government posing a threat to national security.
Now you could argue that's a classic Dubya style ad hoc excuse designed to mask the government's true intentions with this, but I really don't think so. China's behavior is a legitimate threat for which shrugging and saying "let the free market handle it" seems an incredibly dangerous stance to take in my opinion.
No, it can't. China is an export economy that depends on foreign countries (primarily the US) buying its goods. Trade regulations hurt China more than they hurt the US by simple math. This fact is upheld by a review of China's pre-COVID GDP data.
There is desperation here. But I think it is mostly Trump's: The election is less than 3 months away and absolutely everything is going pear-shape. He's diverting and deflecting. Chine is one issue is can appear strong. Banning tiktok is fluff that serves no other purpose than helping him for November.
> TRUMP is acting like a desperate ASSHOLE that has no idea what HE is doing.
Fixed that for you.
>It is evident to the whole world that the US doesn't want to compete at the level of high technology, which is what the Chinese have achieved in the last couple of years.
China couldn't even figure out how to make ball point pens until 2017. They still can't produce jet engines that are worth much compared to several US companies with actual expertise. It's hilarious that you think TikTok is anything even close to "high tech".
> China couldn't even figure out how to make ball point pens until 2017.
China changes very quickly! In 2020 they have 5G technology that blows competitors' pants off. They are sending missions to mars, have more electric cars than any other country, and just yesterday they released a home-grown competitor to GPS.
You replied with nonsense. The fact is China is good at one thing: ripping off other countries inventions. Name one high tech thing in the last 1,000 years invented in China - no, not iteration, but INVENTED. Since gunpowder, China has stagnated.
In short, a president has substantial powers (granted by Congress via IEEPA and CFIUS) to institute a ban or force a divestment of any company "engaged in interstate commerce in the United States", if "national emergency" or "national security" is involved. So, legally, it seems that president can ban TikTok, under certain conditions (that may not be so difficult to achieve). The link above only explains the current legal framework, not whether banning the TikTok is in itself a good or a bad thing. IANAL, so I can't judge the competence of the presented arguments, but it is written by a respected law professor.
From first principles reasoning, this is a good idea. We don’t ban Chinese websites, books or products. Although we tax their products more now. Apps aren’t like physical commodities. They can be used to gather data, quite invasively, shape and form public opinion in a new and more visceral way, as well as take advantage of exploits. Admittedly websites can do that too, but the scale of adoption of Tiktok makes this a special case. Just by sheer numbers, many important people will be using tiktok, or their families, colleagues and friends. If you ever complained about Russian election meddling, then you are a hypocrite if you don’t support this. What if tiktok was Russia’s? I think some people are getting lost in the politics.
The facts: we gain almost nothing by having tiktok around. We lose nothing by banning it, and gain a little bit of buffer against possible threats like election meddling, data mining for nefarious purposes and other things. Completely leaving politics aside, I basically support this.
> [...] we gain almost nothing by having tiktok around.
We gain an outlet or creativity that's particularly fun for teens. You might as well say that we gain nothing by banning skateboards, video games, or rock music.
I would agree more with the ban of there was any evidence of nefarious data mining by TikTok. Outside of weird Internet rumors they only seem to collect basic user data and whatever you write in your profile.
A better analogy for this situation is banning skateboards, video games, or rock music made in China. If TikTok is banned, most teens would switch to an American platform. Their outlet for creativity is not reduced, just changed.
>You might as well say that we gain nothing by banning skateboards, video games, or rock music.
I think apps are interchangeable in a way that tangle things are not. Vine was regarded as indispensable, until suddenly it was gone. And people miss it, but those creative energies have been channeled onto other platforms. Tiktok popped up practically out of nowhere. Now Triller is on the horizon, and who knows what after that.
>Outside of weird Internet rumors
Wowzwers, this does not even come within a country mile of accurate characterization. Tiktok is under investigation for censoring videos to satisfy the Chinese government, they have censored media related to Tiananmen square, have been flagged for 'severe' cybersecurity issues by a cybersecurity firm, and the app is now either restricted or being investigated by numerous countries including the US, India, Taiwan, and Australia.
> The facts: we gain almost nothing by having tiktok around. We lose nothing by banning it, and gain a little bit of buffer against possible threats like election meddling, data mining for nefarious purposes and other things. Completely leaving politics aside, I basically support this.
What about if all non-US countries start reasoning like you and ban Youtube, Facebook, ...?
If country X believes that Facebook is being used as an intelligence or opinion-shaping tool by the United States government then country X would be justified in trying to do something about it, in my opinion. And the loss of Facebook and it’s toxic effect on its users wouldn’t make me lose any sleep if I was a citizen in country X. And I think this is probably true. I know in Myanmar Facebook is insanely popular and I personally knew people very high up in the government who used Facebook and their whole family did as well. I’m confident that Facebook could use their records to effect almost any kind of change imaginable in Myanmar. Their access is mind blowing. Maybe I’m being a bit hyperbolic but the point gets across.
As an EU citizen I hope the European Union (or the biggest governments that are part of it) will start seriously thinking about “nationalizing” the parts of Google and FB that operate in Europe, the same way MS is rumored to do with TikTok.
A better analogy is banning burgers made by a specific company or country, and specific food is banned all the time by the FDA. Banning TikTok is not the same as banning all services similar to it. You do lose a bit of freedom by not having the choice to use a particular service, but this is much less loss of freedom than your analogy to ban a type of something.
You seem personally offended but I believe this is a good reason. We ban all kinds of things. So you think we shouldn’t ban guns? You think we shouldn’t ban any kind of speech, including doxxing and death threats? You think we shouldn’t ban cancerous chemicals? This is mental gymnastics at the Olympic level. Of course we ban things sometimes.
Banning a widespread intelligence gathering and opinion shaping tool of the Chinese government is completely reasonable.
Honestly, Microsoft could purchase TikTok in its entirety and I still wouldn’t believe that it’s anything more than a front for the Chinese government. MS has a reputation for being exceedingly cozy with governments.
No matter how they try to spin off or rebrand this product or abandon ties to the old parent company, I’d never trust it as much as something entirely new.
If the NSA tried putting out a social media network, nobody would trust it. If they sold it off completely and had zero official NSA employees, nobody would trust it. And rightfully so. TikTok feels the same to me.
The first amendment is a negative right: it forbids the government from acting. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech..." The Supreme Court has historically ruled on a regular basis that most US Constitutional protections extend to non citizens too. Unfortunately the conservatively biased Supreme Court last month decided that interfering with freedom of speech is OK against a foreign company. A loss for freedom and a victory for authoritarianism.
> Also the next TikTok clone is going to be a massive succes.
Instagram has already come up with Instagram Reels. After India banned TikTok, Instagram released Reels to the Indian market within the week, and I've got to say it's pretty darn similar to tiktok, so essentially just capitalising on their already humongous user base and the ban.
That literally has happened already when Iran banned Facebook and Twitter during protest against election fraud that lead to Ahmadinejad to stay in power for second term.
However, Iran banned Facebook merely because it was being used by protesters to share content about police brutality during protest.
So I'm not sure if that's a fair comparison.
I think governments are realizing that social networks are important strategic service because of the amount of data they capture. Before internet era countries were protecting way less data about their citizens with their teeths.
I don't get it. TicToc was and still is operating in US under Chinese control. Now American company (MS) wants to take control over the service effectively ending Chinese ownership and suddenly US president decides to ban the service. Isn't it against American business?
Perhaps I'm overly cynical but this doesn't feel like some semi-well reasoned policy based upon control of the app by the Chinese government as much as "they embarrassed me in Tulsa, I want them gone."
Sigh, very hypocritical but I guess we can't let a non-american company siphon our data. I wouldn't mind if we didn't keep yelling 'freedom' and 'free market' every week into the social abyss. But but China does it too you say? They never claimed theirs is a free market did they? Definitely solidifying for me, banning social media apps LMAO! Their minds are only for our feed no? Good proof that we are easily manipulated by feeds. Why not educate for better content consumption? Oh because then we will lose our own influence. So lets remain dumb and stare at screens only approved by our great western lords. Pathetic IC, pathetic.
Fascism is a form of far-right, authoritarian ultranationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, as well as strong regimentation of society and of the economy. What could this president argue that he has done that doesn't characterize as the above?
Communism and fascism are alike. One has an international perspective, one has a national perspective, but the politics and control are very similar. They both exert control over the economy and culture. Interestingly, Lenin was more internationalist than Stalin. People don’t like hearing this because some still think communism is redeemable despite all evidence to the contrary.
China is a hybrid. Their roots lay in communism, but thru also draw heavily from Confucianism when convenient. Related to the last point, they do not share the roots of western philosophy, but rather eastern which makes comparisons difficult. That said, they claim to be die hard communists with Chinese values, as they put it.
I find it interesting that if someone on the right calls themselves capitalists or whatever, that’s taken at face value, but if someone calls themselves communists but they have some accompanying unpleasant characteristics it automatically disqualifies them as being true communists.
Their economic system is state sponsored capitalism but their government and everything else is communist.
TikTok itself is basically a clone of Vine, which dates back to 2013. The barrier to entry is that China (either Chinese investors or the Chinese government through various puppets depending who you ask) sank a ridiculous amount of money into marketing and attracting users to get it off the ground, and also that it enjoyed a local monopoly in China because similar US apps are banned. There's nothing particularly unique about the tech itself.
I'm more worried about the effect this will have on the overall public perception of the TikTok issue than anything else.
During a time of such intense civil unrest, when people are letting strong emotions and groupthink guide them in lieu of reason, I have a feeling this that many will be quick to jump on a bandwagon that's unduly sympathetic to TikTok.
I think I have a pretty good idea of how the media (both social and mainstream) is going to portray this. They'll suddenly forget about the long list of legitimate reasons why TikTok is majorly problematic, and present it as being something where poor little TikTok is being unfairly targeted by big evil xenophobic Trump.
You could make a legitimate argument for why it's unconstitutional or sets a bad precedent for Trump to do this, but that unfortunately doesn't change the one-dimensional way most people are gonna see this.
People have such short memories, and media cycles are too quick. I'm the least fan of Trump, but this is truly one area that the US is taking a stronger stance on than even in my own home country (which I considered more moral, until now).
My conspiracy theory: Silicon Valley (Facebook) couldn’t compete with TikTok so they leaned on Trump to kill it. The fact that TikTok is a massive hotbed of anti-Trump memes the way Facebook is pro-Trump/anti-Biden is also curious.
The national security angle is laughable because we have no such controls over the data held by US companies. Would be trivial for a spy to pipe data out of FAANG to the country they serve - because we have no real privacy laws at the national level. Just look at how a 17 year old breached Twitter.
If social media apps are national security concerns then we should treat them like we do typical defense contractors (background checked/nat security clearance for employees, no foreign nationals on board, control foreign investment, export limitations, etc)
A dozen paragraphs in the article and not one questioning whether he can actually do this. What would such an executive action look like? An EO to Apple and Google to de-list the app from their stores? Why should they comply?
What's he going to do when ByteDance uploads the .apk somewhere?
Sick of media treating this man like a zoo exhibit instead of the advanced persistent threat to US democracy he is.
Summary of which seems to be that in general there is not absolute authority available for banning TikTok, but there are some novel/emergency measures possible to put some restrictions on ByteDance, but which are all rather new and untested, some of whose adminstrative rules/regulation are yet only being formulated(they many not be ready for implementation for many months if not weeks), mostly all of which will expose the federal action to be scrutinized by courts if ByteDance decides to goto court.
If ByteDance goes to court? How about when Apple and Google go to court... A president unilaterally shutting down a foreign business would destroy trust in their centralized app stores. I can't imagine both companies will just nod their heads and roll over.
So does Trump really expect TikTok to just disappear like COVID, or is the actual play here to give Trump a strong talking point to fire up his remaining supporters? He'll undoubtedly group constitutionality-litigating Apple/Google with "the left", like everything else that conflicts with his 1850's world view.
FWIW TikTok may be problematic, but it's only slightly more problematic than all of the US-based spyware that has apparently been acceptable for the past decade. The rest of the world has just had to live with the US being able to surveil most of their citizens' digital activity. Now there's a whiff of symmetry and the panic bells are going off.
Under the Bernstein v. United States ruling software source code is protected under the 1st amendment, I do not know if this holds true for binaries as well though. I guess if TikTok distributed only its source code and it was compiled by the user the gov would be able to do nothing about it.
Fortnite was a widely successful mobile application for a long time, distributed outside of the app store and with the same audience as TikTok - it's not as hard as it would seem to teach people to sideload.
Have US ISPs ever been asked/told to block IPs (or even DNS) before? I don't think it's something the FCC could do, especially since they've abdicated most of their authority over the internet to the FTC. Even still, I doubt they have the authority to do it or the means to impose penalties for noncompliance.
Even if they could - what is a TikTok IP? I'm confident their US endpoints are AWS or Google Cloud - good luck blocking those.
I’m pretty sure that at TikTok level you need operate with a VPC and have your own range of IPs.
Also ISPs and Mobile Carriers have their own blocking and network redirection methods, like url filtering with transparent proxies, that are used to re-lane traffic based on bandwidth usage. a.k.a putting Netflix on the slow lane
I don't think the FCC will move that fast to do something this drastic but I could be wrong. This whole move will likely anger a lot of people and feel authoritarian because they aren't use to the government censoring the media they consume.
How would a network ban be enforced? TikTok doesn't even communicate directly with Chinese servers - I block connections to China on my home network, and my kids can still use TikTok on the wifi, so I'm confident there are US servers.
I even more doubt that we have the infrastructure in place to do a network-level ban (whatever that would mean) for a single app. It is much easier for me to believe Google/Apple could be strong-armed or sweet-toothed into delisting the app, if it really came down to it.
Considering spies and espionage literally turned the tide of two world wars, you might be selling the effectiveness of it short when conducted at a nation-state level.
Again to your reply, I don't think you understand how pervasive and wide reaching it has become. We are talking about entire groups of protesters and counter-protesters being organized and subsequently funded through donation platforms solely by foreign social accounts.
Afaik they still have it, but it isn't used to blast propaganda anymore (just play music for tourists). I haven't found any more recent news articles saying it was removed or taken down, and wikipedia doesn't mention its removal.
It literally says in the first article you posted:
> until it was taken off duty in the 1970s
Followed later by:
> Kinmen stopped using the speakers for such things sometime in the 1970s, opting instead to occasionally play the songs of the Taiwanese pop star Teresa Teng, at moderate volume, for the benefit of tourists.
Taiwan ended martial law in 1987, it's been a democracy ever since. They don't spread propaganda, they are too busy worrying about themselves and trying to ensure they have a good image to distance themselves from china.
> Tiktok is not a US-based software company, they're a private company from China
It doesn't really matter, because the app code is repackaged at the Google/Apple level. At that point, it is from US-company to US-consumer. There are no "import restrictions" or customs on code (speech) like there are on hardware.
> What point are you trying to make here? That the US Government does not have the sovereign authority to determine what companies operate within its borders?
My point is that the US president does not have the authority to tell a US company (Google/Apple) to "stop distributing this code (speech)," because that is the only way a ban like this could be implemented.
Well, there are other ways, but all of them involve legislation by congress and things like Great Firewalls that we don't really want to see happen here. At least, I don't. That is why that any travel down this path I see as an erosion of western democracy, and especially when that travel comes from the executive branch swerving way out of its lane.
If congress were convinced to make a Ban TikTok law, I would still object but it would not be because I think they lack authority, it would be on 1st Amendment grounds.
And to be clear, I despise the app and am a little sketched out by it. But I don't think either of those are good reasons to corrode our liberties.
> My point is that the US president does not have the authority to tell a US company (Google/Apple) to "stop distributing this code (speech)," because that is the only way a ban like this could be implemented.
Yes they can. Who is going to stop them? If the judges/supreme court says that it is legal, then there is nothing that these companies can do to stop the US justice system telling them to do so, and fining or arresting them if they refuse to comply.
> Well, there are other ways, but all of them involve legislation by congress and things like Great Firewalls
No. All you have to do is bring it up in US court, and fine/arrest people if they refuse to comply.
This is how the law works. If you don't follow it, you get fined. And if you continue to not follow it, then mens with guns, known as the police, come to your house, grab you, and put you in a jail cell.
The law is enforced by force. And you really can't just ignore US law like that, if you have any presence at all in the US. Which major companies do.
> I would still object but it would not be because I think they lack authority
You can "object" all you want. But if the judges of the US disagree with you, then none of that matters. You don't decide what the police do. Thats what the courts are for.
I flatly disagree that this is some kind of First Amendment issue. I would love to be proven wrong here, but I'm not aware of any SCOTUS opinion or any related case law that would apply to the argument you are making. That "distributing code" is somehow protected speech.
>That is why that any travel down this path I see as an erosion of western democracy, and especially when that travel comes from the executive branch swerving way out of its lane.
This is naive. Power is power, and the executive branch did much more restrictive things during WWII. We're in Cold War II now and it is absolutely reasonable to expect moves like this, and while I share your apprehension for the erosion of liberties (I really do), at some point you have to make sure you have a winning hand before you put the cards on the table.
> What authority does a US president have to tell a US-based software company to not distribute code from its US servers?
Well it has the authority that is backed up by both the most powerful economic nation, that has the most powerful military in the world, and which is the nation that contains many of the most valuable companies in the world, which will absolutely follow the orders of our judges.
I don’t think this is a particularly helpful path to take the conversation down. Both Trump and China can be threats to democracy, we don’t need to play one off the other to make one look better by comparison.
Only if you drink Trumps racist FUD propaganda. All I see is US bullying China clearly
If Tiktok is the greatest "threat" than obviously there is less than meets the eye. More likely NSA can't spy on US citizens. Its so obviously easy to check out and block. If I were China, I just make things transparent in the age of built in backdoors would be huge untapped market.
It wouldnt work on five eye, but the other 200+ nations would be won [keep it coming haters]
Why would congress struggle to pass it through a constitutional review?
Plenty of Trump's EOs have been ruled unconstitutional. He may feel that his authority extends beyond checks and balances, but it doesn't. His attempts to abuse his power have been duly mitigated and stopped about as well (or badly depending on how you look at it) as the last few presidents, as I see it.
> Why would congress struggle to pass it through a constitutional review?
Because a computer program is an expression, and the right to free expression is a cornerstone of the first amendment. So broadly, I don't think the government can "ban" an app, no matter who wrote it.
This proposition has been tested and affirmed for source code (see DeCSS t-shirt, etc.) but to my knowledge has not been tested for binaries. So, it would at minimum be a new test of whether binary code is as much a protected expression as human-readable code.
Because these are american companies, who make a bunch of their money in america, and they can be fined many millions or even billions of dollars, or possibly even arrested if they don't comply with the orders of the nation that has the most powerful military in the world.
> What's he going to do when ByteDance uploads the .apk somewhere?
Probably just fine ByteDance, which has a US presence, and many employees/bank accounts that are in the US.
Blatant refusal to follow the law of the most powerful military in the world can be followed up with arrests of employees/executives that are in the US.
So you basically reject the overarching principle of limited government? Want to go full Melian Dialogue? The strong do what they will and the weak suffer what they must?
The problem with ruling arbitrarily is that it kills predictability and crushes the spirit. It leads to a state of fear in which nobody wants to invest or go out on a limb, because in an environment where you can be punished for anything, everything is dangerous.
That's why I'm personally adamant about requiring a rule before a punishment and why I'm dubious on this recent "let's sanction this one random foreign guy" push.
> So you basically reject the overarching principle of limited government?
It is a good general principle to follow, as a very high level rule.
But when a country is in conflict with other nation states, that are not following the same principles as you are, then sometimes a country has to make comprises on their principles in order to not be at a disadvantage.
So if China changes a bunch of their own rules, and becomes a much more free and open country, then I would support giving them the benefit of small government/free market protections.
Nation states conflicts are messy. And you have to compromise on some of your principles in order to prevent others from taken advantage of you, who do not follow your own principles.
> The problem with ruling arbitrarily
It is not arbitrary. The USA is in serious conflict with China. And this is one such action that is at least indirectly related to these higher level nation state conflicts.
Correct, I am not objective on this topic and made no such implication. If we were all simply objective observational automatons, it would make for a pretty sterile comment section.
> This is the same thing as Huawei being banned.
Someone else said this earlier, and it's pretty different: one is a physical good that goes through customs where there are existing laws that allow for denial of entry. The other is code/speech for which there are no laws granting the executive branch the authority to block.
Let's be realistic, if an app was doing what is alleged here, they should be banned and I'm sure they are provisions to do so without a vote of Congress. Biden campaign was also told to delete TikTok from phones, maybe NSA knows something.
Preventing the purchase and import of physical equipment into the US is a lot different than preventing the import of code/speech. I fully understand the former is allowed, but I highly doubt the president possesses the authority to do the latter.
While I still vehemently believe the crypto export laws are a stinking pile of 1st Amendment violation, we're talking about code import here, and I don't think there's legislative precedent (and certainly not executive) to enact something like this.
If TikTok is put on the Entities List (doesn’t require congressional review), then Apple and Google will be banned from doing business with TikTok. This forces TikTok off the App Store and Play Store, effectively killing the app globally.
In this context, "democracy" is used in the broad sense, meaning the codified national value of self-government by the population. The distinction that there are elected representatives rather than direct votes isn't relevant.
If we are being needlessly pedantic, the traditional US definition of a "republic" is a democracy, but just not a direct democracy (I'm not aware of any modern countries that are), which I suspect is what you were trying to point out:
Well.. maybe. On the other hand, when Russian gov tried to ban Telegram, it only got more popular, nobody stopped posting, even government officials continued to use it, grocery chains continued to advertise their support bots, grandparents were asking young people to configure proxies on their phones… the ban was a colossal failure and recently it was unbanned.
A smart business can use this kind of ban for a PR advantage, they can make their app into a symbol of resistance.
This is an outrageous violation of the rights of people here. We should also wake up and be against this kind of behavior of the government ... first it raised import tax to make things more expensive for us, then it ban apps we can use on our own phone ... all in the fake name of national security, etc., this is exactly a communist government would do! Wake up folks and stand up against!
Welcome to US politics for the past 3 and a half years. It’s a hell of a thing not knowing how serious anything he says means on any given day, imagine being on the other side of his fence when it comes to human rights.
If I were to make a spyware app, the apple store and google store would destroy me.
Similarly, google store and apple store have banned apps for political reasons, being right wing or informing people about the evils of the elites.
Yet, when it came to the spyware made by the chinese communist party, they played dumb. A serious investigation should begin against Google and Apple, to see what's their endgame and what are their ties with the CCP and other elements working to subvert the american democracy. Of course a man can only dream.
This makes complete sense, I guess it’s hard to suppress Epstein and black lives matter content when it’s on tiktok. We need to go back to communicating on the tedious YouTube experience and getting 2 views a month if we aren’t linking to a amazing baby stroller that our video unboxing is about. All hail FAANG.
And rightly so. Keep banning their apps and keep banning their web sites.
They do it to us.
I think it's absurd that there's an Azure and an Azure China. There's a drop-down list where I can pick Australia South East, South India, Japan West, Korea Central... but not China anything.
Chinese citizens are perfectly entitled to spin up a web server in Azure, or AWS, or GCP, any time, any country where they have data centres.
But.. oh no, we non-Chinese-citizens without a permanent address in China aren't allowed to have the reciprocal ability to create a web server in their country. That might step on the CCP's toes. It might spread dangerous information like democracy! It might compete with their government-run businesses. They might not get their beak wet, you see, and that's a problem. No can do. Gotta play the game, take part in the corruption, or no website for you.
Trump talks a lot of talk, but if he really wanted a "fair trade deal", he should just cut them off completely from the Internet. Fuck the great firewall. Fuck dragging people off to "reeducation camps" because they posted the wrong thing online. Fuck banned phrases like Winnie the Pooh.
We should all teach these people a lesson: You can't have it both ways. You can't have censorship and profit off of our freedoms. Pick one.
I think the biggest thing that bugs me is that the American public didn't let Vine grow and make money. Instead we're either banning and blocking TTok or giving China a huge amount of money. I don't like giving China money. Ban them
What are the predictions for which U.S. tech company would be banned by China as retaliation?
My top pick is -
LinkedIn (Most other U.S. social networks are already banned in mainland China anyways, then again LinkedIn is being used extensively by Chinese to do Business with outside world; So I wonder whether China would dare to pull the plug).
Or it may just ban Instagram, Snapchat in HongKong as there is no ban for such U.S. apps in HongKong currently and that technical governance differences with mainland is fast evaporating. But, I wonder whether banning apps in HK would amount to appropriate retaliation in terms of market size.
If there is any rule of law in the country, this should be against the constitution.
If the US does this, they'll be losing a lot of goodwill founders from other countries have about the US.
The US is uniquely thought of as a part of every country for business. If you're from third world country but you'd like to do a tech business in the US, you're free to do so without much hurdles by the government. Open competition. No other country is like that.
This is what separated the US from the rest of countries like China. You'd dream that in case your startup got big, you'd move to the US, and hire quality engineers/researchers there. You'd like American protection on free speech to protect your company. Your company would not be banned for 'hurting' people. Rule of law. This is increasingly no longer the case.
Now the US is starting to feel like China and the EU more and more. Even if China's economy was bigger than the US, the US would still be in a good position because of their appearance and rule of law. When it's going to be similar to China, why not just do business with China first altogether since they're going to be the bigger economy? China is slowly becoming more liberal to founders from 3rd world countries now. While America seems to not notice this right now, China is slowly becoming more open to competition from poorer countries. The difference is stark even compared to 5 years ago.
Maybe China might not be so much fair right now to American companies because of a power imbalance where the US is too far ahead on certain things that they feel like after their companies catch up, they want to allow open competition. And they seem to progressing to this trajectory.
India has banned it through possible dubious legal means wouldn't pass muster in most western countries, which I think ByteDance expects will be lifted sometime in the future, since they haven't gone to court over it, and seemingly engaging in some sort of dialogue with the government over it. India had earlier banned it for sometime over allegations of 'pornography', but that was lifted.
I hope to god that China halts trade with the US to show it what a real trade war looks like. It would put an end to the bullshit US exceptionalism of our country, and maybe we’d become more civilized players in the world stage as we learn some humility.