Image source: Wired
Social media: The bipartisan spending bill passed by Congress last week effectively forbade the installation of TikTok on devices used by the government.
Advocates and lawmakers announced proposals for tighter regulation of social media companies this year as 2023 gets underway.
The video-sharing app, which attracts more than 1 billion users each month, is owned by the Chinese corporation ByteDance.
In recent months, lawmakers and FBI Director Christopher Wray have made it clear where they stand on the ownership structure of TikTik.
They claimed that the structure leaves US user data exposed.
Additionally, Chinese-based businesses are compelled by law to provide the government with user information upon request.
The 2014 Counter-Espionage Law and the 2017 National Intelligence Law are two elements of Chinese law that have sparked US government concern since 2019.
According to the Counter-Espionage law, organizations and individuals “may not refuse” to submit information when the state security agency conducts an investigation into espionage and discovers relevant data.
In turn, organizations or persons are expected to support, aid, and cooperate with state intelligence efforts, according to Article 7 of the Intelligence Law.
The state also defends those who assist them.
Although TikTok has reaffirmed that US user data is not stored in China, their assurances haven’t had much of an impact.
Republican congressman from Wisconsin, Rep. Mike Gallagher, compared TikTok to “digital fentanyl.”
Additionally, he thinks the app should be banned nationwide.
“It’s highly addictive and destructive,” said Gallagher.
“We’re seeing troubling data about the corrosive impact of constant social media use, particularly on young men and women here in America.”
Read also: TikTok receives ban on government devices
Social media regulation
According to Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, social media sites like TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube use identical algorithms.
She thinks that regulators should strive for increased transparency regarding their processes as a first step.
Haugen asserts that she believes the majority of people are unaware of how far behind other countries the US is in terms of social media regulation.
“This is like we’re back in 1965,” said Haugen. “We don’t have seatbelt laws yet.”
Tech bills in 2022
Some of the most extreme tech-related legislation could not be passed by Congress the preceding year.
The antitrust law and a measure to protect children are among the laws that were unsuccessfully passed.
A tech competition bill that specifically targeted Apple and Google’s mobile app stores was created by MPs in early 2022.
Developers were subject to limitations under the measure.
The American Innovation and Choice Online Act, which has some similar objectives, was previously advanced.
The Act forbids prestigious businesses from favoring their own goods over those of competitors or treating them unfairly.
According to the plan, developers wouldn’t be required to use the platform’s payment method for distribution if the app store has more than 50 million US users.
Additionally, developers cannot be penalized for selling their apps elsewhere for different pricing.
Kids Online Safety Act
Senators Richard Blumenthal and Marsha Blackburn led a bipartisan bill to create obligations for websites that kids 16 and under are expected to access in November.
According to the bill, platforms would be required to reduce the possibility of psychological or physical harm to young users, including the following content:
- Encouragement of addictive behavior
- Enabling online bullying
- Predatory marketing
The bill also mandated that websites default to private settings and restrict who can interact with them.
Even after lawmakers made changes, the bill was opposed by a number of organizations.
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There is still a patchwork of state laws governing how to protect consumer data, although Congress made better progress toward a compromise bill on national privacy standards in 2022.
According to Senator Amy Klobuchar, many bills that have made it to the Senate floor have bipartisan support.
However, she warned that significant bipartisan support might collapse within 24 hours due to the tech industry’s formidable influence.
On Sunday, Klobuchar claimed that social media corporations would only undergo reform after Americans decided enough was enough.
“We are lagging behind,” said Klobuchar.
“It is time for 2023, let it be our resolution, that we finally pass one of these bills.”