TikTok now faces congressional efforts to shut down its operations in the United States. This comes amid complex negotiations between TikTok and the Biden Administration regarding data security and accusations of illegal surveillance done by the popular social media.
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To top it all, TikTok is facing all these legal problems just a few weeks after its secretive launch of the integration of its retail sales in November.
And even when nothing is definitive, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has already assured that TikTok will face massive political opposition in the U.S. from both parties. Last Tuesday, Sen. Rubio announced he was working on bipartisan legislation to ban the popular China-sponsored app from operating in the United States.
The new bill follows Rubio’s pushback to the White House in May for not addressing concerns over the app’s ties to its China-based parent company ByteDance and the Chinese government’s penchant for surveillance through technology. Rubio had released a statement urging President Biden to make it clear that TikTok Shop would not be allowed to operate in the United States.
The legislation fuels pressure on ByteDance, as U.S. fears grow that the app could be used to spy on Americans and censor content. If approved, the impact could have far-reaching implications on influencers, social media users, and companies that use it for marketing purposes.
Rubio’s bill would block all transactions from any social media company in or under the influence of China and Russia, according to a news release from Rubio’s office. The announcement added that Republican Mike Gallagher and Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi sponsored a companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.
A few days ago, TikTok parent company ByteDance Ltd. found that some employees inappropriately gained data for some American users, complicating the Chinese technology giant’s already-fraught efforts to convince US lawmakers that its app is secure.
As reported by Bloomberg, “The individuals involved misused their authority to obtain access to TikTok user data,” said Shou Chew, chief executive officer of the popular mobile video-sharing app.
Future congressional hearings on TikTok might reveal how much security and compliance data privacy regulations are in place with Oracle, which provides cloud storage services for the domestic operation of TikTok.
Platform officials disclosed in June that its American traffic goes through Oracle’s servers, and TikTok officials also said it retains its data backups.
Oracle did not respond to inquiries about compliance with its data storage practices with TikTok. But the company might have a significant impact if congressional hearings pursue clarity on details about handling TikTok’s U.S. data delivery and storage, agreed Luke Lintz, CEO of HighKey Enterprises, a Canada-based digital marketing, and social media management company.
“TikTok poses a real threat when it collects and stores more data points about users than any other social media platform. There will likely be a full audit of Oracle’s data storage to see the exact agreements and policies in place between ByteDance and Oracle,” Lintz told the E-Commerce Times.
The proposed banning law, titled “Averting the National Threat of Internet Surveillance, Oppressive Censorship, and Influence, and Algorithmic Learning by the Chinese Communist Party Act (ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act),” would protect Americans by blocking and prohibiting all transactions from any social media company in, or under the influence of, China, Russia, and several other foreign countries of concern.
Rubio said in the announcement, “The federal government has yet to take a meaningful action to protect American users from the threat of TikTok. This isn’t about creative videos — this is about an app collecting data on tens of millions of American children and adults every day. We know it is used to manipulate feeds and influence elections. We know it answers to the People’s Republic of China. There is no more time wasted on meaningless negotiations with a CCP-puppet company. It is time to ban Beijing-controlled TikTok for good.”
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