Having survived the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries are looking to strengthen their security measures by controlling private information, namely the Chinese and American governments. Throughout 2020, the United States government attempted to ban the controversial app “Tik Tok” from platforms like the App Store on Apple devices because of its former ties to China. Similarly, the Chinese government is now restricting the use of Tesla’s vehicles by military and state employees as a result of privacy concerns of their own. With back and forth blows struck between the two countries, an international privacy war could be looming on the horizon.
Tik Tok, a short-video sharing website originally founded by ByteDance CEO Zhang Yiming, could have been potentially required to send user data to the Chinese government (citizens of all global nationalities) which is mandated under Chinese law and applies to Chinese companies. The Trump administration saw this as a violation of national security as well as individual and international privacy laws. Consequently, he spearheaded a legislative movement to ban the application from use in the United States which failed in Congress. Thus, the United States settled for the next best thing with “Oracle purchasing a 12.5 percent stake in Tik Tok and running the cloud services and security for the app, which was characterized as a win for the U.S.” By making Tik Tok an American based company, the United States quietly struck the first blow in the international privacy war.
China responded in kind when on March 19, 2021, the national government declared that certain American electric automotive vehicles, namely Tesla’s cars, would be restricted for military and state employees’ use due to security issues. The reasoning behind this was that Tesla vehicles, equipped with cameras and sensors, can take pictures of surroundings which can then be sent back to its manufacturer. Subsequently, Tesla’s stock has fallen by 1.17 percent with the company taking heavy losses from the receding Chinese investment in the company. Striking back at the United States, China has seemingly intensified the technological war between the two countries that stem from international privacy issues.
With many nations throughout the world producing vast amounts of online data, it is difficult to set a fine line between what should be public and what should be private. This issue is only growing as consumers continue to worry about the privacy of their data. Specialists within the field have even predicted that if technology continues to develop at the rate it is today, that privacy, a once bountiful commodity, could become the most expensive in society; however, as some countries have their own outlook on what information should be categorized as public or private, the aforementioned changes within data privatization may vary from one country to another. Ultimately, one thing is for certain: the rapid globalization of the international community predicts that this exchange will not be the last we hear of international privacy issues.