Monday, June 26, 2023

A Test

To give Nikki Haley a little credit, she does not share the fondness for Russia which many of her GOP colleagues have. However, like any Republican running for President, she is required to display particular hostility toward mainland China.

The main problem with Haley's remarks is that she offers no solution, which is not coincidental but may be later remedied. But missing is something even The Guardian, the left-leaning, European-based publication, recognized when explaining

TikTok is once again fending off claims that its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, would share user data from its popular video-sharing app with the Chinese government, or push propaganda and misinformation on its behalf.

China’s foreign ministry on Wednesday accused the US itself of spreading disinformation about TikTok’s potential security risks following a report in the Wall Street Journal that the committee on foreign investment in the US – part of the treasury department – was threatening a US ban on the app unless its Chinese owners divest their stake....

Both the FBI and the Federal Communications Commission have warned that ByteDance could share TikTok user data – such as browsing history, location and biometric identifiers – with China’s authoritarian government.

A law implemented by China in 2017 requires companies to give the government any personal data relevant to the country’s national security. There’s no evidence that TikTok has turned over such data, but fears abound due to the vast amount of user data it, like other social media companies, collects.

Concerns around TikTok were heightened in December when ByteDance said it fired four employees who accessed data on two journalists from BuzzFeed News and the Financial Times while attempting to track down the source of a leaked report about the company. Just last week, the director of the FBI, Christopher Wray, told the Senate intelligence committee that TikTok “screams” of national security concerns and that China could also manipulate the algorithm to spread misinformation.

 “This is a tool that is ultimately within the control of the Chinese government, and to me, it screams out with national security concerns,” Wray said.

The Biden Administration's record is mixed, as

In 2020, then president Donald Trump and his administration sought to force ByteDance to sell off its US assets and ban TikTok from app stores. Courts blocked the effort, and President Joe Biden rescinded Trump’s orders but directed an in-depth study of the issue. A planned sale of TikTok’s US assets was also shelved as the Biden administration negotiated a deal with the app that would address some of the national security concerns.

In Congress, US senators Richard Blumenthal and Jerry Moran, a Democrat and a Republican, respectively, wrote a letter in February to the treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, urging the committee on foreign investment panel, which she chairs, to “swiftly conclude its investigation and impose strict structural restrictions” between TikTok’s US operations and ByteDance, including potentially separating the companies.

At the same time, lawmakers have introduced measures that would expand the Biden administration’s authority to enact a national ban on TikTok. The White House has already backed a Senate proposal that has bipartisan support.

A policy checking the power of the mainland Chinese government is incomplete and possibly all smoke and mirrors without banning TikTok in the USA or requiring its sale to an entity not under control of Beijing. Given the popularity of the platform among young people- many of whom vote- politicians such as Nikki Haley find it safer to complain about all manner of things China than TikTok.  With most Republican presidential candidates unable to muster courage to criticize Donald Trump, taking on TikTok would be a positive step.

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