NATIONAL SECURITY: India Bans Popular Chinese Apps Including TikTok, Should We Do The Same?

Written by Wes Walker on June 30, 2020

It’s been no secret that the Communist Chinese DEVOUR public information on the internet. It’s also no secret that there are significant data security issues in Chinese apps, that the CCP will exploit.

Is it time the West stopped giving the Communist Chinese free access to exploiting our information for the limited benefit of access to a couple of popular platforms?

We already see how they mistreat people over whom they already have power: the Uyghurs, for instance, or the people of Hong Kong, some of whom could now face life in prison simply for protesting China’s illicit erosion of their democratic rights last fall.

And China arrested a Canadian diplomat and businessman in retaliation for a Huawei executive being arrested and extradited to the US for breaking various US laws, including breaking sanctions with Iran, money laundering, IP theft, and others.

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As a British outlet rightly warns in an article well worth reading in full:

In order to “transform the international order to align with CCP interests and ideology,” the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has launched a well-coordinated campaign to achieve dominance in the world. Its measures include military buildup and expansion, bribing politicians from other countries and international agencies, retaliating against foreign countries for criticizing its human rights violations, establishing thousands of Confucius Institutes throughout the world, putting top scientists in the U.S. and other countries on its payroll through its “Thousand Talents Program,” and acquiring strategic ports and routes in the world via its “Belt and Road Initiative,” to name a few.

Now the world, especially the U.S., is beginning to wake up to the threat and to counter the expansion effort of the Chinese Communist Party. Most people in democracies, however, have no first-hand experience dealing with the CCP and are extremely naïve about it. Many think it is a political party like the Democrats and Republicans here. They are dead wrong and will face dire consequences if they treat the CCP as a “party.” —Spectator

Their malicious use of information, together with their bad habit of projecting their military and economic power ever-outward, to Hell with the consequences, as they fight to become the world’s foremost superpower are NOT a positive sign for those paying attention.

And with China killing at least 20 soldiers from India in their first border clash since 1975, India is taking no chances.

India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has banned TikTok, WeChat, and several dozen other China-based apps it views as “engaged in activities … prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India,” according to a press release. A total of 59 apps are on the banned list.

India is a huge market for TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance. According to SensorTower data from April, 30 percent of TikTok’s 2 billion downloads came from India. Messaging app WeChat, owned by Chinese internet company Tencent, has more than 1 billion users worldwide.

…Several US government agencies, including the Transportation Security Administration, the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the Navy, and the Army, have banned the use of the app on government-issued devices, citing security concerns over ByteDance’s connections to the Chinese government.

It’s also not clear whether India’s ban on TikTok is somehow related to recent security concerns about how the app was handling clipboard content on some devices. Last week, users of a beta version of iOS 14 noticed that TikTok was accessing content on their devices’ clipboards, a practice the company had pledged to stop several months ago. TikTok said it was accessing clipboard content as an “anti-spam” measure, and added it had since submitted an update to the App Store. —The Verge

The Federalist has been among those warning Americans about TikTok for a while now.

The app has been credibly accused of censorship on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party, and faces legal obligations to overturn its trove of data if the CCP asks. Vox outlined two major concerns about TikTok in December:

One of the more problematic implications is a 2017 Chinese law, which requires Chinese companies to comply with government intelligence operations if asked. That means that companies based in China have little recourse to decline should the government request to access data.

The second is what the Chinese Communist Party might do with that data.

TikTok collects data. As an app owned by Chinese company ByteDance, the CCP can access it. TikTok claims U.S. data is stored outside of China. But that’s “largely irrelevant,” as Alex Stamos, director of the Stanford Internet Observatory told the Washington Post last fall. “The leverage the government has over the people who have access to that data, that’s what’s relevant.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) echoed these concerns in a bipartisan letter to Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire sent in November (emphasis added): “Security experts have voiced concerns that China’s vague patchwork of intelligence, national security, and cybersecurity laws compel Chinese companies to support and cooperate with intelligence work controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. Without an independent judiciary to review requests made by the Chinese government for data or other actions, there is no legal mechanism for Chinese companies to appeal if they disagree with a request.” —Federalist [emphasis in original]

It’s not often that Chuck Schumer and Tom Cotton might agree on an issue. And if the issue they are agreeing upon is in the interest of security, we might want to pay attention.

India is shutting these apps down for their security. We have already seen AOC cheering about how TikTok has been exploited to impact our election, and we have seen how China treats their democratic ‘friends’ and neighbors.

Should the rest of the West also block Chinese Apps so long as the CCP maintains that right to see any information a Chinese Company has access to?