There is a time when all the problems that have been left out before become so big that they can't be ignored. The moment when "will check later" becomes "will check when is too late". And I'm referring to TikTok.
The problem is not so much why Trump moves. "Outclassed" sums up what happened: tiktok users who make him fail a convention should say it all.
The real problem is what he's going to do: ban the service. Because people believe that "banning it" is a simple thing (and technologically it is), but the consequences are unclear.
So, banning something that is heavily based on the cloud is practically impossible: it would be necessary to blacklist all the clouds in the world, and this is not realistically feasible without damaging N other services. As if that wasn't enough, a blacklist would only apply to the USA.
There are rumors of countries that have done it this way, like India, but these are countries that have much more extensive control over the network: when we talk about India we are talking about a country with extensive and profound anti-terrorism enforcement. It means that only the government wants to enter the Indian network.
But there is an easier way to do it: force Apple and Google (Android) to remove the app from the stores. By doing this, in practice no phone would be able to install the application (with the manual skills of the average user, who does not know how to do much of what would be needed).
Would work? Probably yes, but at a high price: first, it would force the Chinese government to understand the strategic link between the Android / Apple IOs operating system, and to take action. If the story of Huawei has had a big push to the alternative operating system, Huawei has always held back with the excuse that the app market was an excessive disadvantage compared to American systems.
But if Trump blocked the app, it would be clear that the market is also a geopolitical tool. And the Chinese regime will no longer stand by.
Android App Store is not used in China. Several large stores are used such as Tencent App Store, Xiaomi App Store, and others. The google store is prohibited.
Apple's app store is used, and if the app disappears from Chinese phones, the Chinese government would be FORCED to take action against Apple. In fact, the apple store already has strong government control, meaning that apps are only published after a commission has reviewed them. Once upon a time there was a loophole that allowed to get around this control, but the Chinese government recently closed it .
This control, however, is oriented to prevent something from ending up in the store, but it is not oriented to force something to stay there.
The stalemate is interesting:
- if the Apple App Store in China removes TikTok, the Chinese government will be forced to ban apple phones, or something equally sensational.
- if the Apple App Store in China does NOT remove tiktok, it becomes clear to the USA that Apple takes orders from Beijing, at least in China.
It will be fun to see how they get out of this impasse.
But the real problem is a huge market for American telephones: the European one.
How European countries will react when it is clear to the general public that Trump can take an application off your phone.
European governments have so far pretended not to notice the political power of Apple and Google. But if suddenly all the teenagers on the continent are pissed, ALL politicians will have to deal with the problem. At that point it would no longer be deniable.
Because it's going to become a political problem. It is about to become because, if Microsoft does not buy it, we will have all the teenagers on the continent complaining. And for every teenager you always have to count two votes. Which is worrying for politicians. They MUST deal with it because they have elections.
It will be very difficult for the various European antitrust commissioners, already humiliated by the Irish government, to let this go.
The game opens in an interesting way, but remember: what applications you can have on the phone is decided by Trump. And you can't do anything about it.
Because the US is better than China.