US Lawmakers Introduce Legislation to Protect TikTok Users’ Data From Being Misused

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A bipartisan group of six senators and two members of the House of Representatives on Wednesday introduced legislation to protect Americans’ data from being used by US adversaries.

The bill is the latest in a series of proposals aimed at addressing concerns about the data of Americans using foreign-owned social media apps like TikTok.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, a Democrat, said the bill “would turn off the tap of data to unfriendly nations, stop TikTok from sending Americans’ personal information to China, and allow nations with strong privacy protections to strengthen their relationships.”

Many US lawmakers say Chinese-owned TikTok poses serious security risks to the data of Americans and have sounded the alarm about potential Chinese influence over the platform used by more than 150 million Americans. TikTok denies any improper data use and says it has spent more than $1.5 billion (nearly Rs. 12,300 crore) on data security measures.

The bill would direct the Commerce Department to identify categories of personal data that could harm US national security and create a list of high-risk countries where sensitive data exports would be blocked.

The bill also would regulate exports of personal data by data brokers and firms like TikTok directly to restricted foreign governments. It would apply export control penalties to senior executives who knew or should have known that employees were directed to illegally export Americans’ personal data.

In March, a US House committee voted along party lines to give Democratic President Joe Biden the power to ban Chinese-owned TikTok but that bill has not moved forward.

Last month, TikTok sued to block a planned ban by Montana, the first US state to bar the popular short-video sharing service.

Warner said the likelihood of courts overturning Montana’s ban made it essential Congress pass legislation to give the president new powers to ban or impose restrictions on TikTok and other foreign-owned apps.

© Thomson Reuters 2023


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