Georgia senators propose bill to ban TikTok

Amber Corea, Section Editor

TikTok, a universal connector between people of all generations and countries across the globe. An estimate made by Wallaroo Media, a social media advertising agency, believes that in the United States alone, TikTok has an estimated 80 million monthly active users. This is nearly a quarter of the U.S. population. The app is especially popular with today’s high school students and is a part of their daily routine.

In Dec. 2022, the use of TikTok on computers and phones owned by the University System of Georgia or any of its 26 universities was banned, following Governor Brian Kemp’s official ban of TikTok on all state-owned devices for all students and teachers K-12. The motivation for this seems to stem from concerns for security and the privacy of personal data users share with the app. The app goes beyond just collecting users’ email addresses and phone numbers. It gathers IP addresses, keystroke patterns, and biometric information. To put it simply, keystroke patterns are used to identify individuals typing habits, using things like speed and rhythm. Biometric Information uses unique physical characteristics for automated recognition (like how iPhone uses facial recognition to unlock phones). This intelligent software is designed to keep users on the site for long periods by generating content that they would likely be interested in.

Be it during class, on the bus, or right before bed, TikTok makes time fly by as it keeps users scrolling endlessly. It is not uncommon to see students filming TikToks in the halls during passing periods or breaking out in viral dances in the middle of a class period. Even if students aren’t filming TikToks, many will spend most of the school day scrolling through their for you pages. The team behind this cleverly constructed platform is ByteDance, a Chinese internet technology company located and headquartered in Beijing. Since the company is located in China, it is subjected to Chinese government laws and regulations. This is something Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and many other government officials find to be alarming since the U.S. and China share a relatively rocky relationship, where feelings of distrust go both ways.

There is a collective fear that the Chinese government could possibly be collecting crucial information from the TikTok app since ByteDance would have to comply with any requests to hand over data. In Georgia, state senators would like to go beyond Brian Kemp’s initial TikTok government ban with Senate Bill 93. This bill would prohibit the use of not only TikTok but other apps like Telegram and WeChat (Russian and Chinese messaging apps) for employees in all government branches and K-12 public schools.

As the ongoing debate continues, many will continue to stick to their own opinions about the app. It’s important to always stay alert and make sure you continue to use not only TikTok but all social media platforms responsibly and be safe with what kind of information you decide to share.