Latest Senate Hearing Raises More Questions About TikTok’s Future in the US

May TikTok nonetheless face a ban in the US?

The Trump administration had sought to bully the app into US ownership, or face a ban, again in 2020, attributable to issues over its potential hyperlinks to the CCP, however since then TikTok has been in a position to avoid any major escalation in scrutiny, by working with US authorities on safety and transparency measures, in the hopes that it could possibly higher ingratiate it with key choice makers and officers.

However the prospect of a TikTok ban was raised this week, when TikTok COO Vanessa Pappas appeared before a US Senate Committee Hearing into the impacts of social media on democracy, with varied questions leveled at Pappas over TikTok’s connections, and obligations, to the CCP.

Pappas refuted most issues, and tactically averted sure parts. However in the finish, questions nonetheless lingered about TikTok’s processes, and the way US person knowledge may theoretically be fed by means of to the Chinese language Authorities through the app.

This additionally comes amid a broader crackdown on Chinese language tech funding exercise in the US.

As reported by The Wall Street Journal:

The Biden administration is ordering a panel that screens international funding for nationwide safety dangers to intensify scrutiny of offers that will give China and different adversaries entry to crucial applied sciences or could endanger provide chains and private knowledge.

That transfer is essentially centered on broader acquisition exercise by Chinese language tech firms, together with efforts by China-based buyers to accumulate US semiconductor firms, which have ramped up in current occasions.

Nevertheless it may additionally relate to TikTok, in regards to private knowledge. And whereas this group can be future funding, it appears seemingly that this might additionally sign a broader shift in focus inside US evaluation of all potential dangers in this respect.

For its half, TikTok says that it still working with US authorities to give you an answer that ‘will fulfill all nationwide safety issues’. That features moving all US user data to Oracle data centers in the US, which, in its view no less than, ought to alleviate issues about China-based workers accessing US person info.

However nonetheless, Pappas wasn’t precisely crystal clear on whether or not US person information could be shared beyond the platform:

Pappas affirmed in Wednesday’s listening to that the firm has mentioned, on file, that its Chinese language workers do have entry to US person knowledge. She additionally reiterated that TikTok has mentioned it might «on no account … give that knowledge to China» and denied that TikTok is in any approach influenced by China. Nevertheless, she averted saying whether or not ByteDance would maintain US person knowledge from the Chinese language authorities or whether or not ByteDance could also be influenced by China.

Pappas additionally averted questions on CCP-aligned staffers working for parent company ByteDance, and what that might imply for the similar.

In the finish, regardless of Pappas’ greatest efforts, it wasn’t rather a lot clearer the place TikTok stands in regards to US person knowledge security, and what TikTok’s obligations could also be if the CCP had been to ask for such.

Which may nonetheless be a killer for the app. And with the Committee on International Funding in the United States (CFIUS) still conducting a security review of the app, and Meta utilizing its small military of lobbyists in Washington to proceed to seed doubt about its motivations and processes, it does appear that the menace of TikTok being banned in the US fully remains to be very actual, and looms as a professional risk ongoing.

Proper now, nonetheless, it looks as if its destiny is essentially in the arms of the CCP itself.

India banned TikTok in 2020, attributable to ongoing border disputes with China, and it took that further battle, and escalation in exercise, to make Indian authorities lastly transfer to eradicate the potential menace that the app posed.

The US, already in an oscillating commerce battle with China, lately raised tensions with the CCP additional by publicly supporting an independent Taiwan. The Biden Administration has taken a different approach to China than Trump did, however the strains are there, and tensions may escalate at any time.

And in the event that they do, then TikTok may very well be caught in the center, and banned consequently – but when additional, broader battle could be averted, perhaps TikTok can proceed to trip the line.

However that’s the place I’d be wanting. Proper now, the issues round TikTok are simmering, but when there’s a extra direct purpose to take instant motion, that might occur, very quick.

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