Trump’s TikTok and WeChat Bans Could Shatter the Global Internet

By Robert Muggah and Raphael Rohozinski

Published in Foreign Policy

What remains of the global, open internet came under attack this month. The latest salvo was launched from the White House and included two executive orders sanctioning the Chinese platforms WeChat and TikTok as well as expanding a so-called clean network program. Intended to tighten the screws on China, these measures risk setting off a dangerous chain reaction far beyond their stated intent. When the orders take effect in mid-September, they will, among other things, prohibit any U.S. citizen or company from transacting with ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, or WeChat, owned by Tencent. While the U.S. State Department says the objective is to fend off “aggressive intrusions by malign actors, such as the Chinese Communist Party,” the measures will undermine a free and open internet, strengthen the hand of authoritarian governments, and hasten the unraveling of the global economic integration that has fueled the most successful half-century in human history.

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