Two years ago, the Biden administration reached an agreement with TikTok to resolve concerns that TikTok, a popular Chinese-owned app, was a national security threat. As the talks dragged on federal and state legislators became impatient and began to take matters into their own hands.
Over the past few weeks, at most 14 states have banned TikTok government machines. Congress is expected to vote this week. Comprehensive spending billThis includes banning TikTok in all federal government agencies. A bipartisan bill that was introduced in Congress last Wednesday would ban the app for all Americans. The Indiana Attorney General filed a lawsuit against TikTok accusing it of lying about the security and privacy threats the app poses.
This issue, which began as a Trump administration effort a few years back, has become increasingly bipartisan. Both sides share concerns that the app could track users in the US and expose sensitive data, such as location information, to the Chinese government.
Federal officials also expressed concern about China’s use of the app to influence Americans. Videos are delivered through TikTok’s algorithm, which creates highly personalized videos for users based on their interests and profiles. Christopher Wray, Director at the FBI warnedThe Chinese government had the option to use TikTok to “influence operations” last month or to hack into devices.
Rep. Raja Krishnamurthy of D-Illinois joined Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher last week and other lawmakers to announce legislation to ban TikTok within the US.
“It will become louder over time, unless major changes in how TikTok works in the US or its ownership structure are modified,” he said.
This ban is part escalating tensions between America and China over global tech and economic leadership. The Biden and Beijing governments have launched massive national spending programs to build technology supply chain within their borders. This effectively ends decades of global trade policy in an arms race to produce chips and electric cars.
Washington and Washington state capitals are now a common place for criticism of TikTok, and other Chinese companies.
US officials claim that TikTok, owned by China-based ByteDance, and with an estimated 100 million US users, could share sensitive data about Americans’ location, personal habits, and interests with the Chinese government. The app is very popular among young people. According to the Pew Research Center, TikTok is second in popularity behind YouTube for American teens.
TikTok long denied sharing data information with Chinese officials. It has also tried to distance its parent company from it. As proof that service operations are anchored beyond China, the company cites its founding in Cayman Islands, offices in New York, Los Angeles, Singapore, Washington, D.C., and offices in Singapore.
Washington maintained a skeptical attitude. Her investigation into the app — which is being run by a multi-agency group called the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States — began under the Trump administration. Trump tried to ban the app from the Apple or Google app stores in 2020, unless the business was purchased by a US company. However, the ban was overturned in federal courts and Trump resigned without solving the problem.
The company has been in discussions with the Biden administration about changes to the way the company stores and accesses US users’ data.
TikTok described a plan for storing American user data on Oracle servers, and created firewalls to prevent ByteDance employees from accessing the data.
Brooke Oberwetter, TikTok’s spokeswoman, stated in an email Monday that the plan would “meaningfully address security concerns raised at both the federal and state level” and that the company would offer government oversight to address concerns regarding its content recommendations and access US user data.
“Politicians with national security concerns should encourage the administration to conclude a national security review of TikTok,” Ms. Oberwetter wrote. “The additional measures were unnecessary and punitive. They send a chilling signal to foreign technology firms that want to do American business and offer global interoperable experiences to be competitive alongside other global platforms.
A spokesperson for the Treasury Department (which oversees the national security review for the app) declined to comment. Karen Jean-Pierre (White House press secretary) declined to address the issue of TikTok being banned on federal government devices.
She said, “I know that this just happened, so I’m going to let Congress proceed with its processes on it.” She also said that TikTok was among a few apps that had been banned “on the White House or other federal government work equipment because of security reasons.”
In September, President Biden OrientationCommittee on Foreign Investment in America to examine whether the deals it is reviewing have the potential for a foreign company to profit from Americans’ data. Another executive order is being prepared by the administration that will increase scrutiny of how foreign actors access American data. It’s not known when it will be released.
Lawmakers are tired to wait for the outcome of things.
“My patience has run out,” Sen. Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, stated in an email. Although he has not signed legislation banning TikTok, he has been a vocal critic of the company as well as supporting countries that have banned TikTok from their government devices.
In a broad spending bill that will be voted upon in the coming days, a bill that would ban the use of the federal government app was introduced by Republican Senator Josh Hawley from Missouri. The Senate passed the bill with the most stringent enforcement restrictions.
Hawley said in an interview, “I hope that this is a wake up call for the administration’s to act.” “This bill is an important, significant step against TikTok. It sends out a signal to all Americans to say that if it’s unsafe for someone with a federal device not to own it then should my child be using it? It’s probably not.
Republican governors have been particularly active in the issue, announcing bans against the app on state government machine. Governors from Alabama, Georgia and Idaho. MarylandThen there’s the MontanaNew Hampshire, North Dakota OklahomaThen there’s the south carolina, south dakota, TexasIn the past three weeks, Virginia and Utah both declared bans. Nebraska2020 ban on TikTok in government agencies
Some states’ rules ban other Chinese apps and telecom vendors such as WeChat or Huawei. Maryland has expanded its work to include Russian-influenced products like Kaspersky, an anti-virus program.
The Pentagon warned Military branchesIn December 2019, TikTok received concerns about “potential risk associated with using the TikTok App”, which led to a ban on the app by government agencies including the Army and Marines as well as the Coast Guard.
Software that blocks or limits certain apps’ downloads on official devices can enforce restrictions on government-issued devices. The rules don’t prohibit government employees from downloading the app to their personal devices.
Banning TikTok will pose more problems for US users. Despite warnings from administrators to the contrary, consumers still claim the app and can opt out. Kurt Opsal (general counsel for Electronic Frontier Foundation), a group that supports free speech, stated that a bipartisan bill in Congress would also restrict consumers’ access to the app.
Mr Opsal stated that the ban leaves out an avenue of communication for those who use the app to communicate with the world, and in some cases, for political speech or comment. “A complete ban on the app is not the best solution to the problem.”
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