TikTok Ban Boosted In Florida Senate
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A proposed TikTok ban on government devices would also apply to people using personal devices on government Wi-Fi networks, the Senate bill sponsor said Thursday.
The Senate Fiscal Policy Committee approved a measure (SB 258), filed by Sen. Danny Burgess, R-Zephyrhills, that would direct the state Department of Management Services to create a list of prohibited applications that it considers security risks, such as the Chinese-owned social media platforms TikTok and WeChat.
The bill is now ready to go to the full Senate.
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“If you’re on government Wi-Fi, you wouldn’t be able to pull it down,” Burgess said. “We’re gonna prohibit that from being accessible. But if you’re on your own 5G, that’s different.”
Congress also has passed a measure aimed at removing TikTok from federal-government devices. Burgess called the platforms “literal spyware apps.”
The House Constitutional Rights, Rule of Law & Government Operations Subcommittee on Wednesday approved the House version of the bill (HB 563).
The momentum is growing to ban Chinese state-owned TikTok following documented cases of abuse, including spying on American reporters, censoring content critical of the Chinese Communist Party, and interfering in the 2022 midterm elections.
“Congressional testimony from TikTok CEO Shou Chew did nothing to mitigate those concerns,” said Sen. Marco Rubio’s office said.
“Shou Chew’s comments, lies, and omissions reveal the close relationship between TikTok, ByteDance, and, ultimately the Chinese government. After today’s hearing, there should be no doubt that TikTok represents a national security threat. The time for half-measures and mitigation are over. It is time to pass my ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Actand ban TikTok.,” said Rubio Thursday.
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On Thursday, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified on the social media company’s consumer privacy and data security practices and its relationship with the Chinese government at a House Energy & Commerce Committee hearing.
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington questioned Chew on reporting by Forbes that staff at ByteDance used TikTok data last year to surveil journalists who were covering the company, gaining access to their IP addresses to track whether they had been in proximity to ByteDance employees.
“Mr Chew, you are here because the American people need the truth about the threat TikTok poses to our national and personal security,” McMorris Rodgers said. “TikTok has repeatedly chosen a path for more control, more surveillance and more manipulation. Your platform should be banned.”
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“TikTok spied on American journalists. Can you say with 100% certainty that neither ByteDance nor TikTok employees can target other Americans with similar surveillance techniques?” Rodgers asked.
“I disagree with the characterization that it’s ‘spying,’” said Chew.
Public officials, lawmakers, and experts have raised national security concerns regarding ByteDance’s connections to China. The Biden administration even threatened to force the parent to sell TikTok or else face a nationwide ban, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Rodgers adjusted her question, asking for a yes or no answer to the question, “Can you do surveillance of other Americans?”
Chew responded that TikTok would protect U.S. user data from foreign access.
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“I wanted to hear you say with 100% certainty that neither ByteDance nor TikTok employees can target other Americans with similar surveillance techniques as you did with the journalists.”
“Again, I disagree with the characterization of ‘surveillance,’” Chew said.
In October 2019, under the Trump Administration, Senator Rubio sent a letter to then-Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin requesting the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to launch a full review of the national security implications of TikTok’s acquisition of Musical.ly.
“Senator Rubio will continue to push for federal action to prohibit Chinese-owned TikTok from operating in the United States. In February, Rubio and Senator Angus King (I-ME) introduced the ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act, bipartisan legislation that would block and prohibit all transactions from any social media company in, or under the influence of, China, Russia, and several other foreign countries of concern unless that company fully divests of dangerous foreign ownership. The legislation remains the only bipartisan, bicameral bill that would actually ban TikTok,” said Rubuio’s office.
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