April 30, 2024
Capitol building in DC with image of cellphone with tiktok logo on screen

President Biden signed a bill to force the sale of TikTok by ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns it, or ban the widely popular video app in the United States. 

Ellen P. Goodman, a Distinguished Professor at Rutgers Law School and co-founder and co-director of the Rutgers Institute for Information Policy and Law, talks about how we got here.

What are the concerns surrounding TikTok that led to bipartisan support in Congress for the bill? 

The stated concerns are threefold: the Chinese government could obtain data about American citizens, the app could be used to spread propaganda to American citizens through algorithmic amplification, and related national security concerns around surveillance and disruptive communications.

If I have TikTok on my phone, should I be concerned? Is my information at risk and is there something I should do to protect myself?  

The truth is that American citizens' data can be bought and sold regardless of what social media platform they use or who owns it. If the Chinese government wants personal data concerning American citizens, it can purchase it from data collectors without having any ownership interest in a social media platform (an accompanying new law makes it harder for foreign adversary-owned compaines to purchase data from a data broker). Unfortunately, without stronger data protection laws, there is very little that individuals can do to protect their data, except for making sure that their privacy settings are set as strong as they can be. In some states, including New Jersey, there are state data protection laws that give individuals greater control of the collection and use of their personal data.

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Rutgers Law Media Contact:
Shanida Carter

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