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Banning TikTok Is Bad Policy, Says ITIF

April 19, 2024

WASHINGTON—Ahead of a planned vote in the U.S. House of Representatives to force TikTok to be sold or banned in the United States due to national security concerns, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the leading think tank for science and technology policy, released the following statement from ITIF Vice President Daniel Castro:

The TikTok ban is bad policy, plain and simple. It will not reduce national security threats, prevent foreign election interference, or halt the spread of misinformation online. It will not solve concerns about consumer privacy, teen online safety, or cybersecurity. And it will not stop China’s techno-nationalist agenda.
The reasons are clear. First, TikTok is not a national security threat. Even if the Chinese government demanded access to user data, the app is not collecting particularly sensitive data. If the United States is concerned about Chinese apps having access to data about Americans, then it should ban all Chinese apps. But such bans would likely be ineffective, especially if users can sideload apps or access the content through a web browser. Second, the Chinese government can spread misinformation about foreign or domestic issues on any social network, and claims that TikTok manipulates its algorithm to promote Chinese interests are still only speculation.
And if a forced divesture fails—which is entirely possible—the resulting ban on TikTok would impact the millions of American content creators who use the platform to build an audience. It would hurt thousands of American businesses who use the social network to market their products and services. And it would harm the millions of American users of all ages who use the app for entertainment, education, news, and more.
Policymakers have legitimate concerns about Chinese-made apps and reciprocal access to China’s digital market, but they should address those issues through policies that are specific, scalable, and sound.
This vote is not only a make-or-break moment for TikTok, but a watershed moment on whether the United States will continue to uphold its support for a free and open Internet where restrictions are based on upholding the rule of law rather than arbitrary measures to block politically unpopular content.


The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute focusing on the intersection of technological innovation and public policy. Recognized by its peers in the think tank community as the global center of excellence for science and technology policy, ITIF’s mission is to formulate and promote policy solutions that accelerate innovation and boost productivity to spur growth, opportunity, and progress.

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