Sweden in NATO, a potential TikTok ban or sale: Roundup on the Four Pillars

Mar 11, 2024News

Minh Nguyen, BGF Editor

Two weeks ago, Hungary acquiesced and voted in favor of Sweden’s ascension to NATO. Now, the Scandinavian country is officially joining the alliance. Thus, the Baltic Sea has now turned into a NATO lake. It should be remembered that it was Russia’s decision to invade that drove Finland and Sweden to join NATO.

In the US, a bill that would force TikTok to be sold to a non CCP-controlled company was recently introduced, leading to a scramble of pro-TikTok messaging in the week. However, the bill still passed unanimously, perhaps because of the campaign. President Biden has stated he would sign the bill, but some “tough on China” individuals made a 180 turn on the issue, ostensibly because of being backed by a ByteDance investor, potentially throwing a wrench into the passage of the bill. It is necessary that this bill passes, for not just the US but the Pillars broadly too.

The EU, another Pillar, has recently fined ByteDance, the owner of TikTok, for violating its data laws. It has also opened an investigation into the app for online content rules breaches. Perhaps in the future, what the US is setting out to do could be applied in Europe as well, using their regulatory regime. India was the first Pillar to ban TikTok, as it did in 2020 after border clashes with China.

It is important that the Pillars negate TikTok, not for just its known psychological effects on users, but also for security purposes. Having a major popular app that could serve as a disinformation center for a potential adversary (say, an invasion of Taiwan or crisis in the South China Sea) is dangerous, especially as China itself is shutting out American tech too. Thus, it is vital to the Pillars’ interest to ban, or at least force the sale of the app: for it is degrading public discourse, it is psychologically degrading especially to children, and it gives a major adversary the levers of influence over the general public.

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo