They might have all the brains at their disposal, but human beings have repeatedly shown how they just cannot avoid a mistake every once in a while. This dynamic has already been reinforced quite a few times throughout our history, with each testimony practically forcing us to look for a defensive cover. We will, however, solve our conundrum in the most fitting way possible, and we’ll do so by bringing dedicated regulatory bodies into the fold. Having a well-defined authority across each and every area was a game-changer, as it instantly concealed our many shortcomings. Now, the kind of utopia you would generally expect from such a development did arrive, but it notably failed to stick around for a long time. Talk about what led to the stated setback, the answer will literally include technology before it covers anything else. You see, the moment technology got its layered nature to take over the scene, it allowed every individual an unprecedented chance to exploit others for their own benefit. In case this didn’t sound bad enough, the whole runner soon began to materialize on such a massive scale that it expectantly overwhelmed our governing forces and sent them back to square one. After a lengthy spell in the middle of nowhere, though, it seems like the regulatory contingent is finally ready to make a meaningful comeback. The same has only turned more and more evident over the recent past, and truth be told, a new development involving TikTok will do a lot to make that trend even bigger and better moving forward.
Kristi Noem, the governor of South Dakota, has officially signed an executive order, which prohibits government employees, agencies and contractors from downloading and using TikTok on state-owned devices. Going by the governor’s statement, the decision was taken because of “growing security concerns” that the popular social media app was using its expansive user base to collect personal data and pass it on to the Chinese Communist Party, a political entity that is then leveraging the stated data for exploiting American users. As sensational as it might look, this isn’t the first time that a US official has tried to limit the platform’s presence in the country. Back in 2020, former President, Donald Trump also made an attempt at blocking avenues like TikTok and WeChat, but the embargo never materialized. However, the failure didn’t discourage some other Republican Senators from introducing a dedicated bill, which by the way, had a similar ask of keeping TikTok out of government employees’ devices. The bill, like you can guess, didn’t go through, but it won’t be the last time we’ll hear about it.
The next time we do, though, will be on the back of a Buzzfeed report that revealed how China-based ByteDance employees were repeatedly accessing American users’ private information. This spelled FCC Commissioner, Brendan Carr to ask companies like Apple and Google to remove the app from their respective stores.
When quizzed regarding these allegations, TikTok had claimed that the access to user data by its global engineering teams “is subject to a series of robust controls, safeguards like encryption for certain data, and authorization approval protocols overseen by our US-based security team. To facilitate those approvals, we also have an internal data classification system; the level of approval required for access is based on the sensitivity of the data according to the classification system, The intention of these processes and protocols is to ensure that the data is only accessed by those that need it to allow our business and our service to function.”
Nevertheless, looking at South Dakota’s decision, the stated reassurance wasn’t quite enough. What’s even more critical is that a decision of such nature can feasibly trigger a similar move across other US states, and therefore, there is still a lot left to unravel in this story.