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New Senate bill would give commerce a more direct path to banning TikTok

PoliticsElectionsNew Senate bill would give commerce a more direct path to banning TikTok
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The Commerce Department would use broad powers to ban or restrict TikTok and other technology apps owned overseas under a bill introduced Tuesday by a bipartisan group of 12 senators.

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The bill marks the federal government’s latest attempt to resolve a standoff with the wildly popular short-video app TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, which federal officials anticipate may one day be used by the Chinese government for propaganda or blackmail. can be misused.

But even banning the app that more than 100 million people in the United States use to express themselves or consume news and ideas could violate the First Amendment. a federal magistrate in 2020 trump administration blocked The government has moved from forcing Apple and Google to remove the Chinese app WeChat from their app stores, citing “slight” evidence about the app’s threat and concerns over the violation of Americans’ constitutional rights.

in your 22 page orderUS Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler found that banning WeChat, which had an estimated 19 million users at the time, would “burden speech substantially more than is necessary to serve the government’s vital interest in national security.”

US officials have argued that TikTok may be sharing US data with the US government for espionage purposes or skewing its video recommendations for Communist Party propaganda. TikTok officials have said that no such thing has happened, and the US government has provided no evidence.

How TikTok Ate the Internet

Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats That Risk Information and Communications Technology (Restrict) Act allows commerce officials to evaluate and block technology deals involving companies from China, Russia, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela and six “foreign hostile” countries will give the right to North Korea. Despite the inclusion of other countries in the proposed legislation, almost all of the apps the senators mentioned on Tuesday come from China.

Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) said the “risk-based, rule-bound” process would let commerce officials take a “more comprehensive approach” to reducing threats from foreign companies, as in previous “whack-a-mole” US government deals with Huawei. and has used “a-mole” tactics to address Chinese tech companies like ZTE.

The White House voiced its support for the proposal, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan saying in a statement that the bill would “help prevent certain foreign governments from exploiting technology services … in a way that threatens Americans’ sensitive data and our national security.” poses a risk to security.” ,

Civil liberties and digital rights groups are speaking out against calls to ban TikTok

Senators on Tuesday aimed most of their criticism at the Chinese government, claiming that TikTok could be weaponized against Americans because its “number one allegiance” should be to the Chinese government. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) said the senators wanted to bring “all the tools of American power and American policy to address the challenge of the Chinese Communist Party”, including “technology, our private sector and our commitment to freedom.” “was involved.

TikTok is a private company with thousands of US employees, and company executives argue they are held to an unfair standard compared to other US social media firms that collect similar data.

As states ban TikTok on government equipment, the evidence of harm is slim

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, who would lead the tech-review effort if passed, also expressed caution with banning TikTok, saying the United States should not trample on values ​​that have traditionally America’s free-market approach has diverged from the more restrictive dogma of corporate China. Control.

“Passing a law to ban a company is not the way to deal with the issue,” she said Said Bloomberg News this month. “As much as I hate TikTok… this is America.”

The House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a Republican-sponsored bill last week that would give President Biden the authority to ban TikTok outright. Republicans who supported it said it would help protect Americans from “subversive data collection”, while Democrats argued it should not go through without further debate.

TikTok has been involved in negotiations for three years with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a group of nine federal agencies that have the power to overturn corporate deals involving foreign business interests.

The company has spent $1.5 billion preparing a restructuring proposal, known as Project Texas, that would turn TikTok’s operations in the United States into a subsidiary whose leaders are under investigation by the US government. Will go TikTok officials have said the proposal was presented to CFIUS in August, but has yet to be approved.

TikTok chief executive Shou Zi Chew is set to testify before Congress later this month. Said The Washington Post last month said it would be “a real shame if our users around the world are not able to hear the voices of American TikTok users”.

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