Staring down the barrel of a possible national ban, executives from China-based TikTok have descended on Washington and are courting favor from legislators.
All of this effort comes, of course, after governments on all levels in the U.S. banned usage of the app on official devices. It also precedes the scheduled showdown between the CEO of TikTok and House lawmakers later in March.
The wildly popular video-based platform is viewed by many as a national security threat. Not only does it harvest massive amounts of user data, but the company is beholden by law to the Chinese Communist Party.
Representatives of the app are pulling out all stops to convince Washington that the data it collects will not be readily available to Beijing.
On Monday, TikTok interim security officer Will Farrell boasted of the company’s work in conjunction with the U.S. government at the State of the Net Conference.
TikTok executives butter up Washington insiders in bid to head off a ban in the U.S.https://t.co/UNJ8JPh51Y pic.twitter.com/oj61NUXdfo
— The Washington Times (@WashTimes) March 7, 2023
Farrell claimed TikTok’s new U.S. operation would have to secure approval at various layers of government for the board of directors and other key personnel. He also touted TikTok’s work with Oracle, which is a major player in government contracts.
Oracle, he said, would vouch for the Chinese company’s revised app and deliver it to Apple and Google app stores.
For perspective, he was immediately preceded at the podium by Biden’s acting National Cyber Director, Kemba Walden. But even with that powerful platform, the headwinds may prove to be too much for the app to withstand.
As the House ramps up for explosive testimony, a bipartisan push by the Senate to ban the Chinese app has gathered steam. Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and John Thune (R-SD) are set to introduce legislation to shut the video app down nationwide.
The Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information Communications Technology Act, or RESTRICT Act, is yet another attempt to scuttle the perceived security threat.
A similar House effort last week was advanced by the Foreign Affairs Committee. None have made it through Congress to reach Biden’s desk, but momentum is definitely on their side.
The White House has been largely mum on the moves to ban the social media platform.