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Senator Warner on the US TikTok Ban and Restriction Act

Future, it could be a new mobile game or an algorithm that helps students learn at home. It could be the latest graphics card or exercise bike or an app that pairs the family with the dogs. With fewer and fewer aspects of life untouched by technology, it could be practically anything. Right now, it is TikTokwith billions of users worldwide.

US Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia) wants the US to be equipped with the ability to act quickly against technology companies suspected of having close ties to governments and foreign spies, to turn their products effectively off store shelves and app stores when the threat they pose is too great. big to ignore. my new bill, the Restriction Act, will delegate that responsibility to the U.S. secretary of commerce, task their office with reviewing and, under certain conditions, banning technologies that are flagged by U.S. intelligence as a significant threat. confidence in the national security of the United States. While the technology’s owners and manufacturers would have every right to contest any outcome in court should the Restriction Act become law, it’s nevertheless a tremendous authority to bestow —an authority of unlimited significance over U.S. competitors abroad.

The thought that such decisions might be unpopular at home or raise suspicion from global allies has not escaped Warner. Without enough transparency around the process, government moves could lead to chaos. Warner says the intelligence community must be held accountable for the decisions it influences, providing not only Americans but the world with the information it needs to understand how and why this new power is being used. . He knows it’s not always free to do so.

TikTok’s relationship with China has more or less spooked authorities in some countries, with many officials in the US claiming to have spoken directly to whistleblowers giving stories of data misuse. individual. Today, the UK has joined a number of other countries, including the US, in ban apps on all government devices.

The British, like their US, Belgian and Canadian counterparts, fear that the app could give Beijing’s intelligence agencies the ability to monitor the activities of key officials and intercept information. sensitivities they keep. Other countries already have laws to do what Warner is looking to do. For example, in 2020, India’s electronics ministry banned TikTok entirely, citing the authority’s aim to protect “the safety and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace”.

The future of the Restriction Act is unknown, but it has received considerable bipartisan support in Congress and has little reason for America’s tech giants to get in the way. To understand more about Warner’s views on security, invasive technology, and privacy concerns, WIRED spoke with Virginia Democrats this week. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

WIRED: Tell us about the Restriction Act and its purpose.

Mark Warner: Over the past few years, we’ve seen challenges come from foreign-based technology. First Kaspersky, a Russian software company, then Huawei, a Chinese telecommunications service provider, and more recently, the discussion revolved around the Chinese-owned social networking app, TikTok . We seem to have an ad hoc approach to foreign-based technology, and I think instead we need a comprehensive rules-based approach that acknowledges that national security is no longer simply a matter of fact. tanks and guns, which is really a question of technology and technology contest. In Kaspersky’s case, it’s constantly updated software from Moscow, and for Huawei, it’s the Chinese Communist Party’s way of listening. In the case of TikTok, the vast amount of data collected could potentially end up in China or, given the fact that hundreds of millions of Americans are using it an average of 90 minutes a day, it could be a great propaganda tool. Let me be clear: Because China changed its laws in 2016 to ensure that, in the end, the ultimate owner of every company is the Chinese Communist Party. It’s not a shareholder, it’s not an employee, it’s certainly not a customer. And this is a national security risk.

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