On a note of concern, Sen. Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, pointed out the inconsistency of the Biden-Harris campaign establishing a presence on TikTok during Super Bowl Sunday. This occurred despite the fact that the prevailing administration had already endorsed a bill that forbade the use of the culturally pervasive app on most governmental devices within the year 2022.
With a touch of incredulity, Hawley posed the situation on social media: the notable campaign of Biden vaunting their use of a platform that is widely suspected to serve as a nexus for Chinese espionage operations, despite the president’s own signature prohibiting it on federal equipment.
Heading into the last stanza of February 2023, the Biden administration stipulated a period of one month for administrative bodies to exterminate the ByteDance-owned application from all government-associated devices. A few more emphatic Republicans have proposed that Congress implement a blanket ban on the operation of the app within our nation’s borders, citing troubling reports that it siphons off the personal data of Americans and, hence, puts the country’s security stability in jeopardy.
The skeptics had good reason to worry. We need not look further than 2017, when the Chinese authorities implemented a law that required its corporate entities to hand over to its government any individual information that bears pertinence to the interests of the nation’s security.
Stepping into the chorus of concern was Sen. Tom Cotton, another Republican, from Arkansas, propagating the requirement for a pan-American embargo on the TikTok application. Just last month, he dismissed the CEO’s assurances about the platform’s security protocols as ‘untruthful’, suggesting a nationwide ban as a solution.
On a previous encounter with Fox News anchor Sean Hannity, Hawley had unabashedly advocated for a similar prohibition. Justifying his position, he had presented a litany of allegations against the Chinese app: it not only trails your movements on your phone, but it also microscopically documents everything you tap into your device. Perhaps more sinister, this data-hoarding app collects and turns over all this personal information it garners to the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.
In an unsurprising turn of events, Cotton appeared to offer his opinion on the Biden campaign’s recent decision to create a foothold on TikTok. He made it clear that, just as it is with TikTok or any Chinese tech firm, there’s an obligatory ‘open door’ policy with the Chinese Communist Party regarding data accessibility. This course of action, according to Cotton, is a complete deal-breaker when it comes to doing business on American soil.
TikTok enjoys a considerable following among the youth demographic, a fact that the Biden campaign certainly recognizes and hopes to leverage. President Biden’s campaign troupe is geared up and ready to manage his TikTok account. They have also cast wider nets through their continuing presence on other social media hubs, including Instagram and former President Trump’s Truth Social, among others.
Echoing the apprehensions shared by Senators Hawley and Cotton, institutions like the FBI and the Federal Communications Commission have purportedly issued warnings against ByteDance. They fear that the Chinese company could potentially compromise user information, such as the browsing habits, location specifics, or biometric identifiers like facial details or voice imprints. All of this data could quietly end up in the Chinese Communist Party’s knowledge vault.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a government agency responsible for scrutinizing the national security impacts of foreign investments in the States, also has its eyes on the ByteDance-owned app. Since as far back as 2019, the CFIUS has been buckling down on its investigation of TikTok.
Despite the ongoing concerns and scrutiny, the Biden-Harris campaign asserts that they will persist in uploading content on every platform accessible, including the contentious TikTok. In defense of this decision, a campaign adviser shared in an email correspondence that extensive safety measures are being implemented around their devices.
The campaign insists on staging a sophisticated security protocol to fortify their online presence. They stress that their campaign’s presence stands separate and distinct from the current CFIUS review that TikTok is subjected to.
Last but not least, the advisor reiterated the campaign’s commitment to reach voters through every possible channel. They plan to keep generating content that will appeal to pertinent audiences and the core constituents that form the backbone of the president’s diverse and wide-ranging group of supporters.
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