TikTok Ban: Take 2 (Why it won’t happen)

From CNN: Biden just signed a potential TikTok ban into law. Here’s what happens next.

Pundits are erroneously calling this a TikTok ban, when it’s anything but. It’s more like a roadmap of options that could, in theory, potentially lead to a ban down the road if TikTok management is somehow unable to avail itself of the generous options and time allotted for it.

If by ‘banned’, more like given a looongg deadline to do something, which can be extended or challenged in court or amended. So does this mean I was wrong? Not really. True, it passed all the stages of legislation, having been signed into law, but this is a long way from an actual ban.

It also helps to clarify what I mean by a ban, as there is confusion as to what a ban would entail. I mean TikTok is pulled from the Apple and Google app stores, and the domain name “TikTok.com” resolves to an error message or some placeholder alerting visitors to the extant ban, similar to those FBI takedown messages, when accessed from the jurisdiction of the US, like below:

The odds TikTok somehow exhausting all of its options and then the ban actually going into effect as described above, leading to the site and app being totally inaccessible in the US: I would put at maybe 1-2%. It’s much less likely than the media hype would suggest. This is why top TikTok influencers do not seem fazed by this.

As I wrote in my earlier post, to ban TikTok outright would set a legal precedent of the US blocking speech or private enterprise for vague extralegal reasons, as opposed to something obvious or cut and dry like TikTok breaking a specific law, from the linked CNN article:

First Amendment experts say a bill that has the ultimate effect of censoring TikTok users could be shot down by the courts.

“Longstanding Supreme Court precedent protects Americans’ First Amendment right to access information, ideas, and media from abroad,” said Nadine Farid Johnson, policy director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. “By banning TikTok, the bill would infringe on this right, and with no real pay-off. China and other foreign adversaries could still purchase Americans’ sensitive data from data brokers on the open market.”

A court challenge could lead to the measure being temporarily blocked while the litigation plays out, likely over multiple years. But if a court declines to grant a temporary injunction, TikTok could have to scramble to comply with the law.

This what I think will happen. It will be shot down in the courts, assuming it gets that far.