TO STOP FRETTING AND JUST BAN IT ALREADY? What the U.S. can learn from India’s TikTok ban.

A U.S. ban might seem unprecedented — but there’s a major precedent many overlook. In June 2020, TikTok had more than 200 million Indian users (then ByteDance’s largest market outside China) when the Indian government abruptly banned it, citing issues of privacy and national sovereignty. The decision came two weeks after Chinese military aggression in India’s northern border led to a high-octane tussle resulting in the death of at least 20 Indian soldiers. TikTok was one among over 200 Chinese apps that were blocked from operating within the country.

India’s experience with TikTok is particularly important as U.S. policymakers grapple with potential economic and political fallout from a ban. India’s ban really did result in a long-term split from Chinese technology, as some in the U.S. have worried. But otherwise, Indians have largely taken the restrictions in stride — and there’s been no meaningful political effort to overturn them. Some influencers still miss the joys of the TikTok era, but investors and consumers have largely moved on and adapted to alternatives.

“We haven’t faced any downside,” said Anand Lunia, founder of Indian venture capital firm India Quotient and a prominent tech critic. “I don’t think that anybody has really complained about missing TikTok.”

TikTok isn’t just spyware; it’s cultural malware.