The Trump administration’s campaign to move the Chinese-owned video sharing app TikTok to the United States is the latest example of the global crack on the Internet.
This weekend, President Trump approved in principle a deal that would move TikTok’s headquarters and data to the American Chinese owner ByteDance Ltd. and its investors currently remain majority owners, with Oracle Corp. which owns 12.5% of the shares in the new company, called TikTok Global, and Walmart Inc. owns 7.5%. Oracle will act as a technology partner to assure the US government that user data is secure, the companies say.
With the transition to TikTok, the United States is in fact following in the footsteps of a number of other governments to treat the tasks of its citizens as a national security issue and to impose restrictions on how data is stored and shared. Trump expressed concern that the Chinese government could use TikTok̵
Treating user data as a matter of national security is a view that has dictated many of the policies that Beijing has put in place to control the Internet in its country over the past decade. China operates what is known as the “Great Firewall”, which limits the services people in the country can use and the information they receive. Beijing prevents people from accessing services run by FacebookInc. and Alphabet Incs Google, instead directing them towards Chinese-owned alternatives like WeChat and Baidu Inc. as it controls increasingly closely.
The idea that these data flows need stricter control has spread in recent years, resulting in a number of cases where governments are temporarily shutting down the internet. Governments have a range of motivations, from troubling internal disagreements to protecting the integrity of their citizens.