What just happened? The United States has taken a step closer to banning TikTok after White House-backed legislation introduced by dozens of senators that would enable the Commerce Department to impose restrictions, including bans, on apps and technologies that pose a national security risk.
The bipartisan Senate bill passed by the White House authorizes Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to review deals, software updates or data transfers by information and communications technology in which a foreign adversary has an interest, according to CNBC. There are six foreign enemy countries named in the bill: China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela and Cuba. White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan urged Congress to “move quickly to send the bill to the desk of the president.”
The bill, called the Restriction Act (Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats to Information and Communication Technology), could have a significant impact on TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance.
Despite its massive popularity, TikTok has for years been under scrutiny for its data collection practices and ByteDance’s alleged ties to the Chinese government. Trump tried to completely ban the app while he was in office, and the FCC commissioner demanded that Google and Apple remove TikTok from their stores. Senators have previously called for a complete ban, and the FBI director has said the app is China’s best spying tool.
It’s not just the US that has concerns about the app; The European Union Commission recently banned TikTok from employees’ devices due to cybersecurity concerns. TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew will testify before Congress on March 23 regarding security concerns.
Happy to join @employeeAnd @employeeand our colleagues in the introduction of Restriction Code, provide @tweet With the tools to identify, prevent and mitigate technological threats, such as TikTok, emerging from foreign adversaries. pic.twitter.com/Y4d6D6yaan
Sen. Dan Sullivan (@SenDanSullivan) March 7, 2023
TikTok, which rejects accusations of espionage and says it has spent more than $1.5 billion on data security, responded to the bill with a statement that claimed, “Any US ban on TikTok is a ban on exporting American culture and values to the $1 billion-plus people who use our service around the world.” the world “.
“We hope that Congress will seek solutions to their national security concerns that will not have the effect of censoring the votes of millions of Americans.”
New: The White House has approved this bill. We have a broad, bipartisan coalition to get this done. https://t.co/C2sBQktt8f
– MarkWarner March 7, 2023
While TikTok may be the biggest casualty, the senators who introduced the bill said it does not discriminate against the app. “The Restriction Act is more about TikTok. It’s going to give us that comprehensive approach,” said Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee.
If TikTok were to be banned in the US, many users would likely circumvent the ban by using VPNs, which, ironically, is the number of Chinese citizens accessing Western internet services that are blocked in the country.
Via Reuters, CNBC