Tik. Tok. Tik. Tok…

Should the app be banned? I’m against banning, but it’s owned by the Chinese government. Should we do like Canada and ban TikTok on all government devices? Of course! 

Honestly, I'm always surprised any social media is allowed on official devices. If you're China, for instance, you don't need access to Facebook's data centers to run a phishing operation. And conversely, there's plenty of people running phishing operations who are completely unconnected to the Chinese government.

As for the rest of us, who aren't government officials, and so not the targets of espionage by foreign governments, there's still plenty wrong with social media that banning tik tok does nothing to alleviate. I'd rather the energy were going into something like building on prior art like Europe's GDPR or California's CCPA, taking lessons of what's worked and not from those, to strengthen user privacy and security. Banning tik tok feels more like a loud signal whose audience is the Chinese government than a substantive response to real privacy and security threats experienced by most users.

Caught the Rockford Files episode on GetTV last weekend in which Jackie Cooper plays a big shot setting up secret computer centers that collect data (like credit card use) on citizens for sale to large security firms. The closing credits came with this message: “Secret information centers building dossiers on individuals exist today. You have no legal right to know about them, prevent them or sue for damages. Our liberty may well be the price we pay for permitting this to continue unchecked. Member, U.S. Privacy Protection Commission.”

As a featured user review on IMDb put it in 2020: “This episode provides a shockingly clear example of how far we as a society have shifted on issues of privacy. ‘The House on Willis Avenue’ aired in 1978. Now, we sign our soul away for the right to store everything about us on our preferred ecosystem. The episode ends with a warning that clearly we didn't heed.”

(Stephen J. Cannell or whoever was guiding Rockford scripts at the time did beat the liberty drum now and then. Another episode I recall, in which William Daniels played an aggressive DA, ended with a message warning of abuses in the grand jury system.)

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