The Global Dynamics of the TikTok Dispute – Emma Wright

TikTok, the popular streaming app, has become the latest focal point of tension between China and the US, as President Trump calls for a ban.

Institute of AI Director, Emma Wright, spoke to the BBC about the broader geopolitical patterns emerging as technology becomes increasingly critical to international competition and cooperation.

Speaking to Jimmy Carpenter on 25th August, she noted that discussions over a ban on TikTok extend far beyond the US.

“There is talk of it being banned in India and in Australia. This is a widespread concern among the global community.”

While countries adopt differing stances towards TikTok, their technology strategies are also diverging in other far-reaching ways.

“I think this will head towards at least four types of internet: a US Internet, a Chinese Internet, a European Internet, and the rest of the world.”

Speaking to the BBC again on 8th September, Emma discussed the potential implications of the new ‘Global Initiative on Data Security’, launched that day by China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi to outline their position on data governance.

“There are eight principles, and they are not laws so much as voluntary commitments. What this seems to be is Beijing’s attempt to address the concerns over what Chinese companies are doing and what the Chinese government has access to.”

While headlines focus on the US-China dynamic, the implications of this announcement extend far beyond this.

“Sometimes we very much focus on the G7 countries: the UK, the US, Australia etc. But there are other swathes of the world where China is very much investing as part of its other initiatives. They may see reassurance from this announcement.”

We need to think about how these initiatives impact all parts of the world, and how we may facilitate collaboration when it comes to digital policy.

As governments develop and adopt differing technology policies, the Institute of AI will continue to facilitate conversations and cooperation between our global network of legislators, as we address the geopolitical implications of artificial intelligence head on.