Misguided TikTok and WeChat Bans Risk Fragmenting the Internet Economy, Says ITIF

August 7, 2020

WASHINGTON—In response to executive orders signed by President Trump that would require TikTok and WeChat to either shut down or find new owners within 45 days, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) issued the following statement from ITIF Vice President Daniel Castro:

The United States is creating a double standard. There is no security justification for banning an app merely because it is owned by a Chinese company. Allegations of security risks should be backed by hard evidence, not unsubstantiated innuendo. American tech companies stand to lose significant global market share if other countries follow a similar standard and block U.S. tech companies from their markets because of concerns about U.S. government surveillance.

To be clear, the United States should be taking aggressive action against China’s unfair trade practices. China restricts most U.S. tech companies from its market, so it is getting a taste of its own medicine. But two wrongs do not make a right. If the Trump administration wants to ban Chinese apps until U.S. apps get similar access to China’s market, the White House should be transparent and forthright about its goal.

These executive orders have doubled down on policies that undermine the goal of building an open Internet for global commerce and connectivity. The risk of continuing down this path is that it will lead to a fragmented Internet where each country has its own domestic apps and nothing else. The Trump administration should rethink its approach as it moves forward.