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TikTok ban: The latest developments in the US

A TikTok ban is getting dangerously, dangerously close in the US. On Tuesday, Congress introduced a bill, the RESTRICT Act, that would give the Biden administration the power to ban apps like TikTok if they pose a risk to U.S. national security.

This legislation has already been approved by the Biden administration itself, which has urged Congress to pass it “quickly.”

The RESTRICT law

The RESTRICT Act would give the Secretary of Commerce the power to mitigate “unreasonable or unacceptable risks” to national security by banning apps linked to foreign adversaries. The bill was officially introduced by Senator Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee.

In a statement, Senator Warner said that while the focus is currently on TikTok and its parent company ByteDance, legislation in this area needs to be broad enough to address other potential concerns as well.

“Today, the threat everyone is talking about is TikTok and how it could enable Chinese Communist Party surveillance or facilitate the spread of malicious influence campaigns in the US. Before TikTok, however, it was Huawei and ZTE that threatened our nation’s telecom networks. We need a comprehensive, risk-based approach that proactively addresses potentially dangerous sources of technology before they get a foothold in America, so let’s not play whac-a-mole and try to catch up when they’re already ubiquitous.”

The RESTRICT Act is also already supported by the Biden administration, CNBC reports. In a statement, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan urged Congress to “act quickly to get the bill to the President’s desk.”

“This legislation would empower the United States government to prevent certain foreign governments from using technology services operated in the United States in a way that poses a risk to Americans’ sensitive information and our national security.”

Crucially, it would strengthen our ability to address discrete risks created by individual transactions and systemic risks created by certain types of transactions involving countries of concern in sensitive technology sectors. This will help us deal with the threats we face today and also prevent such risks from arising in the future.

We look forward to continuing to work with Democrats and Republicans on this bill and urge Congress to act quickly and submit it to the President.”

TikTok whistleblower

Finally, Axios reports this morning that TikTok’s “access controls on US user data are much weaker than the company says.” The whistleblower reportedly shared his allegations with Senator Josh Hawley, who responded by writing a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

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The whistleblower claims:

“I’ve seen first-hand China-based engineers moving to datasets outside of China and creating scheduled tasks to back up, aggregate and analyze data,” adding that “TikTok and ByteDance are functionally the same company.” .”

TikTok Ban: Response from TikTok

As reported by Bloomberg, TikTok has its own ideas on how these concerns should be addressed. In a statement, TikTok spokeswoman Brooke Oberwetter explained that the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States should finalize the deal the two sides have been working on:

“The quickest and most thorough way to address national security concerns related to TikTok is for Cfius to adopt the proposed agreement that we’ve been working with them on for almost two years,” TikTok spokeswoman Brooke Oberwetter said in a statement Tuesday . “We have been waiting for Cfius to finalize our deal for over six months now, while our status has been publicly debated in a manner detached from the facts of this deal and what we have already achieved.”

What ultimately becomes of this situation remains to be seen. But with Democrats, Republicans, and the Biden administration all expressing support for the RESTRICT Act, the situation for TikTok looks worse than ever.

Do you think TikTok should be banned in the US? Let us know in the comments.

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