In this Policy Brief, Jufang Wang assesses the threatened banning of the Chinese viral video-sharing platformTikTok in the US and other countries on ‘national security’ grounds.
She argues that, if TikTok is indeed banned, this will not only undermine much-needed competition within the tech industry, but lead to a more fractured Internet and a more authoritarian Internet governance model. This ‘splinternet’ effect would violate the free speech rights of TikTok’s hundreds of millions of users, and harm the interest of consumers and businesses around the world.
Instead, she argues that regulatory pressure is much more productive than an outright ban, since this approach reinforces a more stable, rule-based operating environment for all online media platforms, regardless of their national origins. Existing regulations have already seen improvements in TikTok's data protection and content moderation policies, in the form of increased transparency and greater independence from China’s content censorship policy.
Constitutional disputes are unique among social disputes, given that the constitutionality or legality of laws (acts) and government actions is contested, and to solve them requires particular institutions and procedures.
Courts in China today often act like legislative bodies, making law by issuing interpretations of laws that are binding on the courts. The general trend in China has been towards more transparency and greater public participation in legislative law-making and administrative rulemaking processes. In contrast, the judicial interpretation process is less transparent, with significantly less room for public participation.