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Why is the US considering banning TikTok ?” /></p>
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<p class=The US Senate must rule on the fate of TikTok in the United States, which is in the process of being banned. (Archive photo)

  • David Beauchamp (View profile)David Beauchamp

Speech synthesis, based on artificial intelligence, allows you to generate spoken text from written text.

In the United States, the House of Representatives adopted a bill on Wednesday which provides for the banning of TikTok in the country if this social network does not cut its ties with its parent company, ByteDance, and more broadly with China. Why is this application in the crosshairs of the American authorities?

For Steve Waterhouse, cybersecurity expert and lecturer in information security at the University of Sherbrooke, the fact that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has easy access to ByteDance's headquarters – home parent of this app, located in Beijing – poses a risk to Americans' data.

He recalls an event in 2022 in which whistleblowers cited 80 voice recordings of meetings that proved the CCP had access to information about Americans from China, even though the information were mostly hosted in the United States.

Note here that ByteDance admitted the same year that it had used TikTok to track down journalists (New window) in order to find out the sources behind information leaks to the media.

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Several people are worried about the proximity of the Chinese Communist Party to the company ByteDance, parent company of TikTok, and the potential access to the data it has on its users. (File photo)

It is first and foremost a question of cybersecurity due to the capture of metadata and geolocation data. Once the application is installed, it asks for access to the microphone, the camera, the contact bank and other information that even the user is not aware of, explains this security expert in interview on the show Zone économique.

The potential influence of TikTok is immense for China. By having direct access to ByteDance's headquarters, China could influence up to 150 million users ahead of the US elections next November, Steve Waterhouse believes.

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He would like to point out that nearly half of the American population is x27;information today on social networks rather than in traditional media, which puts voters at risk of being influenced during elections.

This was the case, for example, during the 2016 election campaign, during which the personal data of millions of Facebook users was allegedly collected by the company Cambridge Analytica, to which Donald's team Trump had paid US$6.2 million, according to records from the United States Federal Election Commission.

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The Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed the considerable influence that the company ByteDance had on Donald Trump's campaign, leading to his victory in 2016. (Archive photo)

The algorithm can be modified to influence what people see and perceive on screen. This is where we become aware of the danger of seeing bad information emerge to direct the vote towards one candidate rather than another. Cambridge Analytica is proof that it's not just the Chinese who can influence us and that there can be influences from here, Mr. Waterhouse points out.

This expert also cites the example of India to illustrate geopolitical influences. He explains that this country decided in 2020 to ban TikTok and 59 other Chinese applications and that it was the first country in the world to do so. A dozen countries have followed in New Delhi's footsteps.

The problem is also geopolitical. We know that in the northeast of India, there are political skirmishes, even military skirmishes, adds Mr. Waterhouse.

Indeed, India wants to limit external influences, especially those of China, these two countries maintaining stormy relations which have sometimes turned into military clashes, particularly in the Himalayas.

According to the same security expert, a ban in the United States, if the bill passed by the House passes the Senate stage and is signed into law by President Joe Biden, would certainly have repercussions in Canada due to the geographical and economic proximity of the two countries.

If they ban TikTok entirely, the Canada would become a local target since we are neighbors and have much in common from an economic and political point of view. There would undoubtedly be influences by osmosis to seek to make an impact in the United States through Canada.

A quote from Steve Waterhouse, cybersecurity expert and lecturer in information security at the University of Sherbrooke

Mr. Waterhouse would like to point out in this regard that Canada and Quebec have already taken measures to limit China's influence through TikTok, in particular by banning the use of this platform in the public service. to minimize the risk of user tracking from devices.

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