Senate’s Passage of TikTok Ban Provisions Hastens World’s Retreat from an Open Internet, Says OTI

Press Release
A finger tapping on TikTok
Ascannio / Shutterstock
April 23, 2024

In response to the Senate’s passage of a bill that includes provisions that would require TikTok to change ownership or be banned in the United States, the Open Technology Institute (OTI), a New America program fostering equitable access to digital technology and its benefits, issued the following statement from Lilian Coral, Head of OTI and Vice President for Technology and Democracy programs at New America:

The Open Technology Institute is disappointed that the Senate has passed a measure that will quicken the world’s retreat from an open internet. If these provisions remain part of a bill that gets signed into law, the United States signals that it’s ultimately stepping back from leading the world on internet freedom. This would be a marked reversal of longstanding U.S. policy in support of an internet that is open and governed by democratic values.

The Senate is right to be concerned about Americans’ data privacy and how foreign governments may use social media applications, like TikTok, to spread disinformation, but, as we’ve said in the past, these concerns are not unique to TikTok, and this bill will fail to address them.

The open web is—as stated by Mark Surman, Executive Director of the Mozilla Foundation—a web by and for all its users, not select gatekeepers or governments. This notion has always been supported by a faith that American private innovators and companies shared the value of openness and were strong enough to maintain market dominance.

Our concern, grounded in research, is that a threat of foreign competition is being used to advance protectionism in the name of national security and undercuts Americans' fundamental right to navigate the web freely. To address data privacy and security and minimize the impact of disinformation, we need to focus on passing comprehensive privacy legislation and algorithmic accountability laws.

The path to a safer, open web is not to ban TikTok but to outcompete it. We do so by investing in and creating the guardrails for American innovation to develop more privacy-enhancing experiences on social media.

Related Topics
Platform Accountability Data Privacy