HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — Tick, tock.
Time might be running out for a popular phone app.
With Attorney General Jason Miyares supporting Montana’s attempted ban on video app TikTok, 10 On Your Side wanted to know: What are the chances the app gets shut down here in Virginia?
What would a TikTok ban look like?
“I say to my kids all the time, I’ll hold up my phone and say, ‘This is your generation’s cigarettes.’ And it really is,” said Eric Noonan, CEO of CyberSheath and cybersecurity expert.
“It’s not because of the technology,” Noonan said. “It’s actually because of that lack of privacy,” Noonan said.
The data collection done by the Chinese-owned app is a threat many Americans might not take seriously, Noonan told 10 On Your Side.
“TikTok … has been caught, and admitted to tracking US-based journalists’ locations, and spying on US journalists,” he said.
Opponents of TikTok ban claim it’s a violation of Americans’ First Amendment rights, but because the app gives its data to the Chinese Communist party, others believe a ban is a real, and reasonable, possibility.
“I think sometimes when we think ban, we think, ‘Well, that just sounds unenforceable,’” Noonan said, “but if we look to the US military, the federal government, for example, they banned apps like TikTok on their government-owned devices already. So there is a path to do it within the confines of our Constitution and our laws.”
Earlier this week, Attorney General Jason Miyares filed a brief in support of Montana’s attempted TikTok ban.
“One of the first jobs of the government is to protect their citizens, including from unwanted spying from a foreign government that is not very friendly to the United States these days,” Miyares said.
The attorney general told 10 On Your Side that it’s not just the data collection he’s worried about.
“TikTok is an unbelievable consumer protection threat to our America’s youth,” Miyares said. “We’re facing a mental health crisis with young people unlike we’ve ever seen, and the videos and the messages that TikTok is constantly bombarding our young people is unlike anything we’ve ever seen.
An attempted ban is in the early stages — America’s estimated 117 million users will have to wait and see how this unfolds. For now, Noonan says, no American should turn a blind eye to the dangers of sharing their information with the Chinese.
“We should not be naive with this at all,” he said. “And we should be aggressively leaning in to figure out a way to solve the problem.”