Senator Warner on the restriction law and the ban of the US Tik Tok


in the future, It could be a new mobile game or algorithm that helps students study at home. It could be the latest graphics card or an exercise bike or an app that pairs families with puppies. With fewer and fewer areas of life untouched by technology, anything is possible. Currently, it is TikTok that has billions of users worldwide.

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia) wants the U.S. to take swift action against tech companies suspected of colluding with foreign governments and spies and remove their products from shelves and app stores when the threat they pose is severe. Too big to ignore. His new bill, the Restrictions Act, gives that responsibility to the U.S. Commerce Secretary, whose office is reviewing and, in some cases, developing technologies that U.S. intelligence suggests threaten the credibility of U.S. national security. Although the owners and manufacturers of the technology would have every right to challenge any outcome in court if the statute of limitations were to rule, the grant is a powerful mandate — one with far-reaching implications for U.S. competitors overseas.

The notion that such decisions are unpopular at home or likely to provoke resentment from international partners is not lost on Warner. Government action can lead to chaos if there is not enough transparency around the process. Warner said the intelligence community needs to be held accountable for the decisions it makes, not just for Americans, but for the world to understand how and why this new power is being used. He knows that he may not always be free to do so.

TikTok’s relationship with China has officials in many countries more or less displeased, with several officials in the US saying they have spoken directly with whistleblowers who tell tales of personal data abuse. Today, the UK has joined several other countries, including the US, in banning the app from all government devices.

The British, like their American, Belgian and Canadian counterparts, fear the app could give Beijing’s intelligence agencies the ability to track the movements of key officials and intercept classified information they hold. Other countries have laws to do what Warner wants to do. In the year In 2020, for example, India’s Ministry of Electronics banned TikTok entirely, citing an authority aimed at protecting “the security and sovereignty of India’s cyberspace.”

The future of restrictive legislation is uncertain, but it has gathered significant bipartisan support in Congress, and there are a few reasons why it could stand in the way of America’s tech giants. WIRED spoke with the Virginia Democrat this week to learn more about Warner’s position on security, invasive technology and privacy issues that hit home. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

WIRED: Tell us about the Prohibition Act and its purpose.

Mark Warner: Over the past few years, we’ve seen the challenges of outsourcing technology. First it was Kaspersky, a Russian software company, then Huawei, a Chinese telecom provider, and more recently, the conversation was about the Chinese-owned social media app Tik Tok. We seem to have a whack-a-mole approach to foreign technology, and instead I think we need a comprehensive rules-based approach that recognizes national security is not just tanks and guns, but really a question of technology and technology. Competition. In Kaspersky’s case, it was software being developed from Moscow, and it was a way for Huawei to listen to the Communist Party in China. On Tik Tok, the huge amount of information that is collected can end up in China or if one hundred million Americans are using it for an average of 90 minutes a day, this can be a huge propaganda tool. Let me be clear: China changed the law in 2016 to make sure that at the end of the day the master of every company is the Chinese Communist Party. Not the shareholders, not the employees, certainly not the customers. This is a threat to national security.


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