Why Would the U.S. Consider a TikTok Ban?

Every month in the United States, 30 million mostly young users of the social media app TikTok spend an average of 46 minutes a day, viewing 37 billion videos. The app is one of the most downloaded apps in the world, exceeding monthly downloads of major apps like Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat.

Companies have been quick to realize the marketing potential of such a captive audience. Unfortunately, the app is getting attention for another reason. The Trump administration is considering a ban on the app. Why? TikTok is a Chinese video-sharing social networking service owned by ByteDance, a Beijing-based internet technology company. U.S. intelligence agencies believe the app may compromise user data. When asked about the app, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in an interview that people should only download the app “if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.” Specifically, the U.S. alleges that the company could be compelled to “support and cooperate with intelligence work controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.”

The TikTok clamor comes on the heels of other U.S. efforts to block the use of technology developed in China on the grounds of national security. In 2019, U.S. President Donald Trump announced a ban on the use of telecom equipment from designated adversary states, including China. The ban was meant to “protect America from foreign adversaries who are actively and increasingly creating and exploiting vulnerabilities in information and communications technology infrastructure and services.”

While the order did not include specific companies or countries, it effectively applied to 5G telecom equipment providers Huawei and ZTE. At about the same time, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) of the U.S. Department of Commerce placed Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and its affiliates on the Bureau’s Entity List. Being on the list means such foreign-owned entities cannot use American technology.  

Concerns about backdoors into systems and other malicious activities are not unfounded. In October 2018, Bloomberg reported that some motherboards made by Supermicro had malicious components that were used to spy or interfere with the operation of the board. These motherboards were found on servers used by leading tech companies like Amazon and Apple, but Supermicro is certainly not the only company to manufacture components in China. Dell, HPE, Lenovo, and others have done so, and many still do.

U.S. Manufacturing is Key for Security

Many companies have manufactured products in China to cut costs. But are they doing so at the expense of compromised security?

PSSC Labs offers solutions for those who want a secure option. PSSC Labs is a U.S.-based company incorporated in California. PSSC Labs’ mission is to bring a superior level of service and support to a commodity-based industry. PSSC Labs offers an alternative to the traditional computer company by focusing on problem-solving using open source software and commodity hardware.

All manufacturing, integration, and support is performed in California by U.S. citizens in a secure location. PSSC Labs has a 25-year history working with federal agencies – from the Department of Defense and NASA to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Institutes of Health. 

Servers used by these agencies need to be able to perform high-performance computing, streaming analytics, and other compute- and data-intensive operations. The agencies need full control over their own data, especially regarding governance, security, and performance. PSSC Labs solutions deliver these capabilities.

As an American manufacturer, PSSC Labs provides a security level and trust that other foreign manufacturers simply lack. Solutions like its CyberRax Data Flow Pipeline, servers, and HPC clusters can be purchased via several contract vehicles, including GSA, CHESS, and NETCENTS. PSSC

PSSC Labs is already working closely with Department of Defense agencies to help them achieve their operational mandate to ingest and direct data from disparate sources, all with the required security provisions out of the box. We know that government servers need to be 100% operational at all times, without sacrificing speed, analytics, or security, which is why the PSSC Labs team of engineers is available for support for your system’s lifetime.  


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