Report Wire - White House endorses TikTook invoice, requires swift ban of Chinese app

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White House endorses TikTook invoice, requires swift ban of Chinese app

4 min read
TikTok has presented a security plan called Project Texas that pledges to insulate the company’s US operation from Chinese influence (REUTERS)

The invoice launched Tuesday would give the president the flexibility to power the sale of foreign-owned applied sciences, purposes, software program or e-commerce platforms in the event that they current a nationwide safety risk to US customers. It doesn’t point out Beijing-based Bytedance Ltd.’s TikTook by title, however the video-sharing app, which has about 100 million customers within the US, is the clear goal.

“We look ahead to proceed working with each Democrats and Republicans on this invoice, and urge Congress to behave shortly to ship it to the president’s desk,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said in a statement.

This is the first time the Biden administration has weighed in on legislation to deal with the app, which the White House says pose national security risks. Critics of TikTok say it allows the Chinese government access to data and viewing trends of the roughly 100 million Americans — as well as users globally — who have made it one of the world’s most popular apps.

At the same time, the administration wants to avoid the legal challenges that beset former President Donald Trump’s push to ban TikTok and Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat messaging app. Trump ordered those products banned from app stores in 2020, but a federal judge blocked the order, arguing that it would violate free speech rights.

“These risks are not going away, and unfortunately our tools to date have been limited,” Senator Mark Warner, the Virginia Democrat who is among the invoice’s cosponsors, stated at a briefing Tuesday. “We are going to create a brand new set of authorities.”

James Lewis, a senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said that “he Trump deal was thrown out of court in less than 30 minutes. This administration has thought carefully about how to do something that will stand up in court. Being able to say, Congress passed a law that gives us this authority really helps.”

“It strengthens their hand in any future battle both to barter with TikTook or to barter with the court docket,” Lewis added.

It was unclear how the invoice launched by Warner and John Thune, the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, would possibly have an effect on a separate national-security evaluate of TikTook. That evaluate, led by the Committee on Foreign Investment within the US, or Cfius, was meant to return to an settlement addressing issues surrounding US person knowledge. But that course of seems to have stalled.

TikTook’s opponents in Congress have rejected the corporate’s assurances that its Chinese proprietor doesn’t have entry to US person knowledge, together with viewing patterns and geolocation. In addition, studies that TikTook promotes or hides sure content material has raised questions on whether or not Chinese authorities may affect what content material American customers see.

TikTook has offered a safety plan known as Project Texas that pledges to insulate the corporate’s US operation from Chinese affect. The plan consists of an unbiased board of administrators to supervise knowledge safety, third-party vetting and a partnership with Oracle Corp. to retailer person knowledge and audit the platform’s algorithms.

TikTook’s Response

“The swiftest and most thorough option to tackle any nationwide safety issues about TikTook is for Cfius to undertake the proposed settlement that we labored with them on for practically two years,” TikTok spokeswoman Brooke Oberwetter said in a statement Tuesday. “We have been waiting for Cfius to finalize our agreement for over six months now, while our status has been debated in public in a way that is divorced from the facts of that agreement and what we’ve achieved already.”

The backlash has had TikTook waging an all-out allure offensive globally for months. To drum up goodwill and defend its knowledge safety and content material moderation insurance policies in Washington, executives have enlisted lobbyists to have interaction with greater than 100 congressional places of work. In the second quarter of final 12 months, TikTook spent $2.1 million on lobbying on points together with youngsters’s privateness, content material moderation and antitrust — essentially the most up to now.

In feedback that will have presaged the Biden administration’s assist for the strategy within the Warner invoice, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo stated in an interview final month that “it’s harmful enterprise” to “pass a law to outlaw a particular company. I think it’s probably more thoughtful to say, ‘These are the kinds of risks we’re worried about, from these categories of companies and we’re going to enable some department to run a process to assess the risk and take action.’”

Warner’s invoice would nonetheless must undergo a Senate committee, and it’s unclear the place the measure ranks amongst Chuck Schumer’s priorities. As Senate majority chief, he determines whether or not it might come to the ground for a vote. It would additionally must cross the House of Representatives, the place a number of lawmakers have their very own payments that might explicitly ban the app.

Anti-China sentiment crosses get together traces in Congress, and quite a few senators from each events stated Tuesday they have been aligned on taking motion in opposition to TikTook. Republican Marco Rubio of Florida has stated flat-out that it’s time to ban TikTook “for good.”

“We’re very united on this topic,” Senator Dan Sullivan, an Alaska Republican, instructed reporters. He stated the US must “convey all elements of American energy and coverage” to the China problem.

This story has been printed from a wire company feed with out modifications to the textual content.

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