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On August 6, President Trump issued an executive order prohibiting transactions with the video-sharing app TikTok. Since the app is owned by the Beijing-based ByteDance, it could pose national security and privacy risks to users in the US, the order states.

But the Trump administration’s actions targeting TikTok mark a departure from the traditional American techno-libertarian position on internet governance and free speech online. And it comes at a time when the concept of a global internet is under threat.

Nations are increasingly pursuing various forms of internet sovereignty, from Russia building a walled-off intranet to India regularly shutting down the internet in areas of social unrest to some European nations introducing a right to be forgotten from search engines.

All these trends point in the direction of a “splinternet,” where your experience of the internet increasingly depends on where you live and the whims of the ruling parties there. As we explain in the video above, that’s a tough environment for an app like TikTok, which became globally successful almost immediately, and which connects people from around the world in hyper-personalized but often international subcultures.

With the excesses of the open internet visible daily (see: foreign election interference, data breaches, misinformation and hate speech, and domestic and corporate surveillance), countries supporting a free internet will need to establish a set of principles that ensures its future. But they may have to do it without the United States.

You can find this video and all of Vox’s videos on YouTube. And join the Open Sourced Reporting Network to help us report on the real consequences of data, privacy, algorithms, and AI.

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