TikTok: It’s a new step that the bipartisan spending agreement will forbid TikTok from being utilized on equipment used by the government.
On Friday, the legislation was approved by both Houses of Congress.
The decision highlights the growing anxiety surrounding the popular video-sharing app, which is owned by the Chinese corporation ByteDance.
President Joe Biden has not yet given his approval to the bipartisan spending plan.
It urges e-commerce retailers to conduct more research to halt the sale of counterfeit goods online.
The measure also increases the filing fees for companies seeking to merge with federal antitrust regulators.
However, Congress was unable to pass a number of strict measures aimed at the tech industry, including:
- Antitrust legislation that requires Apple and Google app stores to give developers more payment options
- A measure mandating new guardrails to protect children online
In spite of progress made by Congress in 2022 toward a compromise measure on national privacy standards, a patchwork of state laws continue to govern the protection of consumer data.
Reaction to the bill
The Chamber of Progress, a center-left-leaning organization in the tech sector, praised the rejection of many antitrust bills that would have targeted its donors which included:
Following the presentation of the package, Adam Kovacevich, CEO of the Chamber of Progress, made the following official statement:
“What you don’t see in this year’s omnibus are the more controversial measures that have raised red flags on issues like content moderation.”
The company has previously expressed worries about the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, a well-known antitrust statute.
NetChoice, another tech organization, praised Congress for refusing to include unrestrained extremist progressive ideas to alter American antitrust law.
However, the legislation that was enacted by lawmakers as part of the budget package would have an impact on the industry in a number of different ways.
The removal of TikTok from devices provided by the government may have an influence on rival platforms like Snap, Facebook, and Instagram that are fighting for the attention of younger users.
Exemptions from the law are also provided for research, national security, and law enforcement purposes.
Lawmakers and FBI Director Christopher Wray are concerned that TikTok’s ownership structure may expose US user data to Chinese firms that may be required by law to turn over user information.
Although TikTok has often stated that the information it gathers from US users is not kept in China, these assertions have had little impact.
The company has been attempting to come to an agreement with the government through the US Committee on Foreign Investment to allay worries about national security.
A spokesperson for TikTok released the following statement after the announcement:
“We’re disappointed that Congress has moved to ban TikTok on government devices – a political gesture that will do nothing to advance national security interests – rather than encouraging the Administration to conclude its national security review.”
“The agreement under review by CFIUS will meaningfully address any security concerns that have been raised at both the federal and state level.”
“These plans have been developed under the oversight of our country’s top national security agencies – plans that we are well underway in implementing – to further secure our platform in the United States, and we will continue to brief lawmakers on them.”
Even though other antitrust measures targeting digital platforms were not included in the end-of-year legislation, a bill that helps raise funds for the antitrust institutions that investigate mergers did.
The Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act raises the filing fee that companies pursuing significant mergers must pay to the antitrust agencies in order to comply with the law’s requirements.
Additionally, the bill lowers the cost of smaller fees and allows for yearly charge adjustments in accordance with the CPI.
The measure’s targeted beneficiaries are the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice Antitrust Division.
Both have seen a large increase in merger filings over the past few years without adequate budget increases.
Despite falling short of antitrust groups’ hopes, the measure incorporating the merger filing fee was praised.
According to Sarah Miller, executive director of the American Economic Liberties Project, the bill would strengthen antitrust law for the first time since 1976.
“This is a major milestone for the anti-monopoly movement,” said Miller.
“Big Tech, Big Ag, and Big Pharma spent extraordinary sums in an unprecedented effort to keep Congress from delivering on antitrust reform and undermine the ability of state and federal enforcers to uphold the law – and they lost.”
The bill’s proponent, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, claimed that updating merger fees after decades is vital to provide antitrust enforcers with the resources they require to carry out their duties.
“This is clearly the beginning of this fight and not the end,” she said.
“I will continue to work across the aisle to protect consumers and strengthen competition.”
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Tech impact on children
The bill contains the Children and Media Research Advancement (CAMRA) Act.
It authorizes the Department of Health and Human Services to do research on how media and technology affect young children, teenagers, and infants.
According to the law, the following technological advancements may have an effect on physical, mental, and cognitive health:
- Social media
- Artificial intelligence
- Video games
- Virtual reality
The director of the National Institutes of Health must provide a report to Congress on the organization’s operations within two years of the law’s adoption.