BILL: Banning TikTok - UPDATED
Do you support a ban on TikTok?
Updated on March 16, 2023
- The Biden Administration's Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States has warned TikTok that it could be banned if its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, does not sell its stake in the U.S. version of the app.
- TikTok said it will continue to invest in data security efforts, like Project Texas, with software company Oracle to separate its U.S. operations from its Chinese division and to store all U.S. user data in the U.S.
- It is not clear what the divestment will look like as of yet because a large percentage of ByteDance's shares are owned by global investment firms.
- In 2020, The Trump Administration threatened to ban TikTok if it didn't sell to a U.S. company.
Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology (RESTRICT) Act
- The bipartisan bill was introduced by twelve senators. It was led by Mark Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and John Thune (R-SD)
- It it co-sponsored by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Susan Collins (R-ME), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and Mitt Romney (R-UT).
- House and Senate: Not yet voted
- President: Not yet signed
- TikTok Chief Executive Shou Zi Chew is due to appear before Congress on March 23.
- The bill would give the administration the capacity to ban Chinese-owned TikTok and any foreign-based technologies that pose a risk to national security.
- The White House backed the legislation which would create a formal process for the government to “deter, disrupt, prevent, prohibit, investigate, or otherwise mitigate” potentially dangerous technologies.
- The bill would require Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to identify and address foreign threats to information and communications technology products and services.
What's in the bill?
Enables the Commerce Department to impose restrictions or ban technologies
- The restrictions and/or bans would apply to apps or technologies or services that pose risks to national security.
- This could also mean that American companies, including app stores like Apple and Google, could be forced to cut ties with certain apps.
- Unlike the earlier House bill, Warner’s Senate measure creates a framework for punishing foreign companies that pose a risk to U.S. security.
Reflects growing concern over TikTok data privacy
- TikTok is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance and is used by 100 million Americans.
- There has been growing concern that American data could be compromised or shared with the Chinese government.
- TikTok rejects spying accusations and said it has spent more than $1.5 billion on data security efforts.
Would enable heightened monitoring of certain countries
- While the bill has a broad application, it does enable a focus and heightened monitoring of certain countries, which include China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia, and Venezuela.
- The bill also provides the Commerce secretary with a handful of lesser tools to mitigate risky transactions, like the ability to force companies to divest services.
Comes a week after a vote on the DATA Act, which would enable Biden to sanction TikTok if user data was leaked
- The RESTRICT Act comes a week after the House Foreign Affairs Committee voted on a separate measure to restrict access to TikTok, entitled the Deterring America’s Technological Adversaries Act, or DATA Act.
- The DATA Act would empower Biden to sanction or ban TikTok if the administration finds that it shared U.S. user data with the Chinese government.
"[It] would strengthen our ability to address discrete risks posed by individual transactions, and systemic risks posed by certain classes of transactions involving countries of concern in sensitive technology sectors."
“Today, the threat that everyone is talking about is TikTok, and how it could enable surveillance by the Chinese Communist Party, or facilitate the spread of malign influence campaigns in the U.S."
"[A] U.S. ban on TikTok is a ban on the export of American culture and values to the billion-plus people who use our service worldwide."
Do you support a ban on TikTok?
— Emma Kansiz
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People have no idea how their data is being used against them and there is a whistleblower saying the company is lying to the US about its data collection and use.
This is not a personal rights issue, it's a national security issue. And I wouldn't be far behind on throwing the American companies under the bus as well. Trying to get companies to do better, it's too late for all that. We need to follow the European model and enact internet laws.
Until more is known about Tik Tok a ban is a wise move and consistent with other countries (Canada, EU, India, Pakistan, UK). Most US corporate security wouldn't allow Tik Tok on its computers given these concerns, nor would most government organizations.
Tik Tok, the international version of the Chinese App, Douyin, was launched in 2017 just 1 year later, and both are owned by ByteDance, have become the 4th most popular social media platforms after FaceBook, YouTube & Instagram.
Tik Tok and ByteDance are based in Beijing (China) but incorporated in the Cayman Islands and not registered in China. However, China’s National Intelligence Law of 2017 states that all organisations and citizens shall “support, assist and cooperate” with national intelligence efforts.
In 2020, India which had been the #1 user with 611M of the 2B users banned Tik Tok and 50 Chinese Apps also due to security concerns. Trump also threatened to ban Tik Tok but never followed through.
In 2021 the company's co-founder stepped down when the Chinese government tightened control of China's tech sector and put pressure on entrepreneur bosses to support the party line.
In 2022 ByteDance created a new unit called Beijing Douyin Information Service Ltd that runs Douyin—the Chinese version of TikTok that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) owns a share of that business and has censored videos on Tiananmen Square and Tibetan independence.
That same year UK Parliament deleted its Tik Tok account due to security risks, and in Ireland, the data protection watchdog, which regulates TikTok for the EU started an investigation on how data is being used.
In 2022, a US-Australian cybersecurity firm reported that was accessible to a server in mainland China, run by Guizhou BaishanCloud Technology Co Ltd. Which had access to your phone including device location, calendar, contacts and other running applications.
TikTok meetings revealed that Americans' data had been accessed by Chinese ByteDance employees several times.
Tik Tok claims they refused to allow the Chinese Government to have an account but they do allow Chinese employees to access US user data and TikTok's owner ByteDance could be compelled to hand over US user data to the Chinese government.
TikTok then moved its US users' data to cloud servers at Oracle Corp in the US and European user data to Ireland.
TikTok collects information on users like the content you use, the device you use, how long you watch a post, what categories you like, and uses that information to fine tune algorithms for your data feed. For US based Apps it’s well known this information is mined for marketing, elections, etc but in the case of Tik Tok the concern is whether the Chinese Government will accessed & used it.
If you wanna ban somebody that's done damage to this country how about banning Kevin McCarthy and Tucker Carlson (Whose first name really should begin with an F) Both of these people have done more damage to this nation than Benedict Arnold they're both traders they are both liars. Let's ban the two of them.
Tik Tok, the 4th most popular social media platforms after FaceBook, YouTube & Instagram has more extensive security issues than its competitors. Social media campaigns by Facebook against competitors should not be conflated with security expert & government analysis.
People are free to be wreckless with their personal data all they like but when an app collects excessive data (keystrokes, biometrics, etc) and opens access to the device (phone, tablet, laptop, etc) that can be aggregated & analyzed by a foreign country to use against the US then it's a National Security Risk which is what separates Tik Tok from other social media platforms.
Collecting keystrokes means they know your passwords and all sites you visit which they can access even if password protected. Collecting biometrics means they have access even if you use fingerprint or facial recognition for access. Collecting your messaging means they can access even if you use security requiring a site to send you a code to your phone (DM, email). So they can access all your sites (work, bank, investments, medical, DMV, credit cards, voter registration, etc) no matter what type of password protection you’re using. They can also access the organizations you access so those organizations' security becomes even more important than people who are willing to be wreckless, of which the Beijing office under control of the Chinese Communist Party has access to it all under Chinese law. It is naive to ignore this National Security Risk.
There is extensive documentation on this some of which is summarized as follows,
"Last year, BuzzFeed reported that “China-based employees of ByteDance have repeatedly accessed nonpublic data about U.S. TikTok users,” even as the company has pledged to transfer American user data to servers in the U.S. Later in 2022, Forbes uncovered that TikTok employees had used internal data to track journalists reporting on the company in a bid to root out leakers. Amid widespread anti-China protests in Hong Kong, the app appeared to censor content from the protest movement. And amid China’s human rights atrocities against the Uighur people, TikTok suppressed content about events in the Xinjiang region."
"Excessive data collection...TikTok is said to collect "everything", from search and browsing histories; keystroke patterns; biometric identifiers—including faceprints, something that might be used in "unrelated facial recognition technology", and voiceprints—location data; draft messages; metadata; and data stored on the clipboard, including text, images, and videos."
“TikTok collects from users contains sensitive information and is often taken without the user’s explicit knowledge. This data includes device brand and model, Operating System (OS) version, mobile carrier, browsing history, app and file names and types, keystroke patterns or rhythms, wireless connections, and geolocation.”
“collection and analysis of user personally identifiable information (PII) as well as user data collected from other sources. This data can include age, image, personal contacts, relationship status, preferences, and other data collected through a single-sign on (SSO) feature that allows users to sign into TikTok from other platforms”
“the app collects “the content of [messages] and information about when [messages are] sent, received and/or read.” In aggregate, TikTok’s data collection is more intrusive than other apps.”
“according to leaked audio from more than 80 internal TikTok meetings, China-based employees of ByteDance have repeatedly accessed nonpublic data about US TikTok users”
“The recordings, which were reviewed by BuzzFeed News, contain 14 statements from nine different TikTok employees indicating that engineers in China had access to US data between September 2021 and January 2022, at the very least. Despite a TikTok executive’s sworn testimony in an October 2021 Senate hearing that a “world-renowned, US-based security team” decides who gets access to this data, nine statements by eight different employees describe situations where US employees had to turn to their colleagues in China to determine how US user data was flowing. US staff did not have permission or knowledge of how to access the data on their own, according to the tapes.”
“Everything is seen in China,” said a member of TikTok’s Trust and Safety department in a September 2021 meeting. In another September meeting, a director referred to one Beijing-based engineer as a “Master Admin” who “has access to everything.”
“four of the recordings contain conversations in which employees responsible for certain internal tools could not figure out what parts of those tools did. In a November 2021 meeting, a data scientist explained that for many tools, “nobody has really documented, uh, like, a how-to. And there are items within the tools that nobody knows what they’re for.”
“The complexity of the company’s internal systems and how they enable data to flow between the US and China underscores the challenges facing the United States Technical Services team, a new dedicated engineering team TikTok has begun hiring as part of Project Texas.”
“USTS team’s independence from Chinese-owned ByteDance, one team member told a colleague in January that “not everyone can join” the team. “Chinese nationals are not actually allowed to join,”
“In a recorded January 2022 meeting, a data scientist told a colleague: “I get my instructions from the main office in Beijing.”
“US user data — including public videos, bios, and comments — will not be exclusively stored in the Oracle server. Instead, this data will be stored in the company’s Virginia data center, which may remain accessible from ByteDance’s Beijing offices even once Project Texas is complete. That means ByteDance’s China-based employees could continue to have access to insights about what American TikTok users are interested in, from cat videos to political beliefs.”
“In a recorded conversation from late January, TikTok’s head of global cyber and data defense made clear that while Oracle would be providing the physical data storage space for Project Texas, TikTok would control the software layer: “It’s almost incorrect to call it Oracle Cloud, because they’re just giving us bare metal, and then we're building our VMs [virtual machines] on top of it.” Oracle did not respond to a request for comment.”
I would like to thank my friend JimK for the following post, which, I happen to agree with 100%:
Server farms gather and distribute internet traffic with hundreds or, in some cases, thousands of interconnected server boards. These type of farms are the backbones of Facebook operations, Amazon services, Apple services, Google, ‘cloud’ services generally and I am sure many other information flow services around the world. A Chinese company makes high performance server mother boards which are quite economical and these large farms have incentives to replace or expand their farms using these cheap and high performance boards.
One of the users found a tiny surface mounted chip on one model of these boards that had no apparent function. It turns out that it was a hardware back door to unencrypted server traffic that could be forwarded, with no software trace, to ‘listening’ sites - and was felt to have been added by the Chinese government for sampling traffic to and from these server farms. The well known server farms denied using any of these boards and the company stopped selling them. There was little said publicly about this afterwards.
The point is that the Chinese have a well established big-data capability that gives them the ability to use a variety of covert electronics to gather seemingly insignificant intelligence from many different sources that, when analyzed in total, can compromise US security.
The US refused to allow Chinese developed 5G cell phone chips in US based cell phones out of fear that they could easily be hardware compromised in a manner similar to the server boards.
In the case of TikTok, it was determined some time ago that user location data was being gathered regularly. This can come from the phone’s GPS positioning services or even from triangulating positions from the cell phone functions that keep searching for nearby cell towers. The concern was that if several people known to be involved with South China Sea security, for example, were all called to the same secure site at the same time, the Chinese could infer what the meeting was about by just what expertise came and where they met.
There are also ‘toolkits’ that governments have quietly developed and/or purchased that allows them to remotely and covertly turn on selected cell phone microphones or cameras, read emails and even gather user typed ‘keystrokes’. These are the reasons why banning TikTok has been such a concern.
In 2022 TikTok killed zero children.
In 2022 guns injured 1300 children and killed 300 under the age of 11.
Let's see what's the biggest problem here? The biggest problem is that Republicans Wusses. They will jump right on the bandwagon of some thing that means less than nothing but when it comes to really doing something about a problem you can't find them. That's the Republican party the do-nothing party.
Meta and the other social media platforms are using propoganda to end tiktok. Thats it. You guys are pawns as usual.
America is so far out of alignment with reality, a ban on Tik tok would do little to no good. Why not allow everyone's views to be heard? From blm broadcasting from their mansion to the child mutilation groups wanting to trans a 5 year old or nambla wanting to date Pete's kids. Let's mix in the kkk and the communists and the apocalypse preachers. We have become a nation of victims searching for those like us to acknowledge that status.
The government should not have the power to tell people what they can put on their phones, it is up to the individual to decide the personal risk for themselves.
I feel like this is censorship and is racist towards foreign developed technologies.
I'm not too concerned about TikTok. I do believe people need to be more careful about the content. Many 'challenges' have ended badly.
Banning of TikTok, is in my favor, because it could definitely become dangerous due to Illegal activities and sharing of information. If TikTok, could be monitor, maybe it can be more safter.
Fully support ban.
Yes .... I agree totally with M. I'm also tired of American companies selling out their own country for the almighty dollar and to China! China doesn't let their kids on Tik Tok but two hours a day. And it's not all if any on entertainment. It's science and education. Their spying thieves that try in every way to destroy our country from the inside out. They always get us sold on something then it's hard to take it away.
As if US tech companies and government aren't spying on me and using my data without my knowledge or consent, spare me. I'm also adamantly against censorship - so oppose.
Read the terms of service on the data that they are allowed to collect. It is all encompassing. For what purpose? Knowing location, other apps on your phone etc. it is hard to determine what this data is being used for but there is a reason why its collected. WIth the CCP I would rather we just ban it. Its a giant time suck for lots of users especially our younger population
TicTok is literally a tool for spying and personal information theft by the Chinese Communist Party. Why have we not banned it already.
Contrary to "PC police" & the Biden administration, COMMUNIST China is our enemy. THEY are eating our lunch! Get rid of TikTok!!
Let's get this done, I had to shut my daughters phone off and get a new phone number. Tons of cartoon porn, kids waving guns while on line unbelievable crap. BTW the FBI used to investigate this stuff but no more. TikTok also copies your pass codes in the background. This is insane wake up and shut it off!
I fully support banning TiKTok at all levels. Putin has already proven how easily we can be compromised from within. We do not need China embarrassing us too, especially while preoccupied with cleaning out the GOP treasonists.
Today's world of tech has developed into modern warfare to the extreme. Covert spies no longer need to travel they send an email. We are so far behind the rest of the world on these things the least we can do is ban foreign tech from silently invading our country.
I don't use it and I don't trust it
Stop selling America to the communist