White House Flip-Flop: Biden's GLARING Double Standard On TikTok

By Maria Angelino | Thursday, 07 March 2024 09:20 PM
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In a rare display of bipartisan cooperation, the Republican chair of the House China committee and the Democratic ranking member have introduced a bill that could potentially force ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of TikTok, to sell the popular social media app or face a ban in U.S. app stores.

The proposed legislation, named the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, outlines a process for the President, in collaboration with the FBI and intelligence agencies, to identify social media applications controlled by foreign adversaries, such as China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea, as national security threats.

Once these apps are classified as security risks, they would be prohibited from online app stores and web-hosting services unless they sever ties with entities under the control of the foreign adversary within 180 days of the designation. This could potentially lead to a ban on TikTok, which FBI Director Christopher Wray has testified poses a risk to national security, unless ByteDance takes swift action to divest it.

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Achieving bipartisan agreement in the current political climate is a significant achievement. The White House has indicated strong support for the bipartisan measure, although it is still considering some changes. A National Security Council spokesperson stated that the Biden administration has collaborated with lawmakers from both parties to develop a lasting legislative solution that addresses the threat of technology services operating in the United States in a manner that poses risks to Americans' sensitive data and broader national security.

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The NSC official praised the work of Gallagher and Krishnamoorthi on the issue and expressed eagerness to work with Congress to further strengthen the legislation to ensure it has the strongest possible legal foundation.

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However, the White House's stance appears somewhat contradictory, as it has also been using TikTok as a tool to engage with younger voters. This was evident when the White House released a TikTok video on their new account @bidenhq instead of President Joe Biden speaking live to Americans during the Super Bowl.

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TikTok has criticized the bill, calling it an "outright ban." The company stated, “This bill is an outright ban of TikTok, no matter how much the authors try to disguise it. This legislation will trample the first amendment rights of 170mn Americans and deprive 5mn small businesses of a platform they rely on to grow and create jobs.”

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Meanwhile, the South China Morning Post reported that the Chinese government would obstruct the sale even if ByteDance and other mainland investors were compelled to divest their shares. Alex Capri, a senior lecturer at the National University of Singapore and a research fellow at the Hinrich Foundation, indicated that ByteDance could face legal repercussions in mainland China if it transfers ownership or technology to the U.S. without Beijing's approval.

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Capri stated, “It’s unlikely that TikTok will ever be effectively banned in America. Any attempt to ban it outright is likely to be struck down in US courts on the grounds that this violates a user’s First Amendment right to free speech.”

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The irony of the situation is that while the Chinese government, which does not allow U.S. social media platforms to operate in mainland China, is relying on U.S. protection of free speech to ensure their own social media app can continue collecting data on Americans.

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Reports over the past two years suggest that Chinese engineers can access data on any U.S. user. Given that Chinese companies are legally obligated to assist the government when requested, this data could potentially be accessed by the communist party.

The potential for misuse of TikTok by its Chinese owners extends beyond data collection. The app has been used to propagate controversial viewpoints, and there is potential for its Chinese owners to use it to influence the opinions of more than 150 million U.S. users.

It is clear that the Chinese government will exploit any technological advantage under the right circumstances. In the case of TikTok, this could mean using the platform to sway public opinion abroad, particularly during critical geopolitical events. This is consistent with the type of clumsy propaganda that China has been disseminating on social media for years. As the saying goes, "China lies. It's what they do."

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