Social media: The bipartisan spending bill passed by Congress last week essentially forbade the installation of TikTok on devices used by the government.
This year, advocates and legislators revealed proposals for tighter regulation of social media companies as 2023 kicks into gear.
The video-sharing app, which receives more than 1 billion monthly users, is owned by the Chinese corporation ByteDance.
Christopher Wray, the director of the FBI, and lawmakers have publicly stated their positions on TikTik’s ownership structure.
They claimed that the structure exposes information about US users.
In addition, Chinese-based businesses are compelled by law to provide the government with user information on request.
The National Intelligence Law of 2017 and the Counter-Espionage Law of 2014 are the two Chinese laws that have alarmed the US government since 2019.
According to the Counter-Espionage law, businesses and individuals “may not refuse” to divulge information when the state security agency conducts an espionage investigation and discovers crucial information.
Organizations or people are expected to support, help, and cooperate with governmental intelligence initiatives, as stated in Article 7 of the Intelligence Law.
The state also protects those who assist them.
Despite TikTok’s repeated assurances that US user data is not kept in China, little has changed from their comments.
TikTok has been compared to “digital fentanyl” by Wisconsin Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher.
Additionally, he thinks that the software has to be banned outright 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.”
Social media regulation
Twitter, YouTube, and other social networking sites, like TikTok, use the same algorithms, claims Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen.
She thinks that increasing the transparency of their operations should be the regulators’ first move.
According to Haugen, the majority of people are unaware of the US’s gap in social media regulation compared to other countries.
“This is like we’re back in 1965,” said Haugen. “We don’t have seatbelt laws yet.”
Tech bills in 2022
Congress failed to pass some of the most radical elements of technology-related legislation the year before.
Antitrust law and a bill aimed at protecting children were among the legislations that were vetoed.
Early in 2022, lawmakers created a bill that specifically targeted Apple’s and Google’s app stores for mobile devices.
The legislation also placed limitations on developers.
The American Innovation and Choice Online Act was advanced, which has some of the same objectives.
The Act forbids larger companies from unfairly treating or preferring their own products over those of competitors.
The plan states that developers would not be required to use the platform’s payment method for distribution if the app store had more than 50 million US users.
Additionally, app developers cannot be punished for selling their products elsewhere for a lower price.
Kids Online Safety Act
In November, bipartisan legislation was launched by Senators Marsha Blackburn and Richard Blumenthal to put regulations on websites that children 16 and younger can view.
The proposed law would compel platforms to restrict content that could cause minor users bodily injury or psychological trauma, including the following:
- Encouragement of addictive behavior
- Enabling online bullying
- Predatory marketing
Additionally, websites have to follow the law’s requirements regarding connection restrictions and default privacy settings.
Even after the legislation underwent changes, several organizations still opposed it.
There is still a patchwork of state rules dictating how to maintain customer data, even though Congress made significant progress toward a consensus measure on national privacy standards in 2022.
Many of the bills that have reached the Senate floor enjoy bipartisan support, according to Senator Amy Klobuchar.
However, she cautioned that the tremendous influence of the tech industry might cause huge bipartisan support to collapse over the next 24 hours.
According to Klobuchar, the American people won’t demand social media company reform until they declare that “enough is 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.”