Ban TikTok, say FBI, CIA, NSA, DNI, GOP, DNC, POTUS (but not ACLU)

The White House and both sides of the Senate agree: TikTok needs to be stopped—or at least RESTRICT’ed. A bipartisan bill seeks to make that happen.

FBI Director Christopher Wray (pictured) is one of many arguing the app is a tool of the Chinese Communist Party. He’s joined by the great and the good from other relevant agencies.

This alphabet soup surely means a ban will happen. In today’s SB Blogwatch, we refresh our FYPs while we still can.

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Not to mention: GPT glitch tokens.

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. RESTRICT

Sock it to me. Michael Martina and Patricia Zengerle report—“FBI chief says TikTok ‘screams’ of US national security concerns”:

National security threats
China’s government could use TikTok to control data on millions of American users. … FBI Director Christopher Wray told a U.S. Senate … Intelligence Committee hearing on worldwide threats to U.S. security that the Chinese government could also use TikTok to control software on millions of devices and drive narratives to divide Americans over Taiwan or other issues:

“This is a tool that is ultimately within the control of the Chinese government — and it, to me, it screams out with national security concerns.” … Other top U.S. intelligence officials … agreed at the hearing that TikTok posed a threat to U.S. national security … including Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, CIA Director William Burns and National Security Agency Director Paul Nakasone.

The White House backed legislation introduced on Tuesday by a dozen senators to give President Joe Biden’s administration new powers to ban TikTok and other foreign-based technologies if they pose national security threats. The endorsement boosted efforts by a number of lawmakers to ban the popular app, which is … used by more than 100 million Americans.

New powers, you say? Rebecca Klar makes it clear—“Senators introduce bipartisan bill”:

Has better odds at getting passed
A White House-backed bipartisan Senate bill … aims to give the federal government more power to regulate—or ultimately ban—technology linked to foreign adversaries. [The] RESTRICT Act led by Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) does not specifically target TikTok … but rather takes a broader, whole-of-industry approach.

The bipartisan bill has better odds at getting passed then GOP-led bills targeting TikTok specifically that have come before it. In all the RESTRICT Act is cosponsored by 12 bipartisan senators, and has support from the White House. … TikTok has repeatedly pushed back on allegations that it poses national security risks.

“RESTRICT”? SRLSY? We’ve always got time for Thomas Claburn—“Clock is ticking for TikTok”:

ACLU
[The] US Congress … has a gift for acronyms. We’re SURPRISED, or Slightly Underwhelmed Regarding Possible Regulatory Intervention Sold as Exigent Defense.

It comes a week after the US House Foreign Affairs Committee voted to advance a similar bill called the DATA Act — for Deterring America’s Technological Adversaries. … The American Civil Liberties Union voiced opposition to both bills: … ”Unfortunately, the Senate bill is a roundabout route to the same bad place reached more directly by the House bill,” lamented Jenna Leventoff, senior policy counsel at ACLU. “[They] would have profound implications for our constitutional right to free speech.”

O RLY? mrtksn strongly agrees:

I’m very concerned that the US government will set a precedent for regulating what apps citizens are allowed to use. I definitely agree about the risks. And banning it from the devices of the govt officials makes sense. But banning access to an app screams, “The Chinese/Russian/Turkish way of governing has won, freedoms are no more.”

I’ve been living in Turkey for some years now and I promise you, it’s not fun. Do you know that it has been 2 weeks since Turkey banned the country’s most popular … social media for no other reason that they suspect anti-government activity by the operators, because they think it is not natural to have a concentration of anti-govt views? That’s where you are headed.

There’s no place like home. So says Powercntrl:

I can call the leader of China “Pooh Bear” all day long and he can’t do **** about it. But if I call Ron DeSantis “homophobic”, he wants to be able to sue for that. The political nutbags who aren’t separated from you by an ocean are the ones you have to worry about.

Although rg287 sees both sides:

If I were in the shoes of Congress, I’d be keeping a very close eye on TikTok as a near-term threat, but I’d be treating Twitter as a current threat to democracy as a known and proven vector for foreign influence operations: … A social platform now run by a Russia-sympathiser who has eliminated any meaningful moderation.

Simply saying, “China bad, US fine,” is insufficient. … Being US-owned should not be a free pass, or earn you less scrutiny than VK/TikTok. Because the Russkies can use Twitter just as easily as millions of Americans use TikTok.

What about the Chinese version, Dǒuyīn? u/Upgrades finds the comparison instructive:

In China, TikTok shows younger kids a lot of educational material. Here they show them brain melting garbage.

If they wanted to divide Americans … they could push political videos on certain people more often. They can destroy support for Ukraine by pushing certain narratives.

Social media is where a ton of Americans get all their info from and they don’t even think about checking on it in more detail after reading it. We are extremely susceptible to these incursions by foreign nations.

Why didn’t we do this sooner? yamtaddle welcomes the bill:

All of these sorts of social media programs are terrifyingly-capable spying platforms. … The domestic ones are, too. … It’d be weird if we didn’t regard one controlled by a foreign adversary as a threat.

Meanwhile, presidenteloco is fed up of all the YouTube sponsorship:

This talk of banning TikTok is all a conspiracy by Big VPN.

And Finally:

GPT FAIL

Previously in And Finally


You have been reading SB Blogwatch by Richi Jennings. Richi curates the best bloggy bits, finest forums, and weirdest websites … so you don’t have to. Hate mail may be directed to @RiCHi or [email protected]. Ask your doctor before reading. Your mileage may vary. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Do not stare into laser with remaining eye. E&OE. 30.

Image sauce: FBI

Richi Jennings

Richi Jennings is a foolish independent industry analyst, editor, and content strategist. A former developer and marketer, he’s also written or edited for Computerworld, Microsoft, Cisco, Micro Focus, HashiCorp, Ferris Research, Osterman Research, Orthogonal Thinking, Native Trust, Elgan Media, Petri, Cyren, Agari, Webroot, HP, HPE, NetApp on Forbes and CIO.com. Bizarrely, his ridiculous work has even won awards from the American Society of Business Publication Editors, ABM/Jesse H. Neal, and B2B Magazine.

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