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New York (AFP) – The popular social network TikTok, which was already widely criticized by Democrats and Republicans, began the year under strong pressure in the United States after the approval of a law that prohibits its use on the devices of public officials.
The text, ratified last week by President Joe Biden, also vetoes its use in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Control of Congress by Republicans, who have a majority in the Lower House, threatens to further complicate the platform’s situation. to share videos.
Conservative lawmakers accuse TikTok, owned by the Chinese giant ByteDance, of being a spy or propaganda tool at the service of Beijing.
TikTok is “digital fentanyl,” said Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher, one of the leading anti-China voices in Congress, comparing it to the drug that has caused thousands of overdose deaths in the United States.
“It’s highly addictive and destructive, and we’re seeing disturbing data about the devastating impact of constant social media use, especially on young American men and women,” he told NBC News.
“We have to ask ourselves if we want the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to control what is about to become the most powerful media group in the United States,” he added.
A TikTok spokesperson, quoted in the US media, formally denied these accusations and assured that the CCP “does not have any control, direct or indirect, over ByteDance or TikTok.”
The new federal law was passed after dozens of similar bans at the state or local level.
To regain the ability to be used on all US smartphones, TikTok USA may need to part ways with ByteDance.
That was what former President Donald Trump wanted, who ordered during his tenure that TikTok’s activities in the United States be sold to the American groups Oracle and Walmart.
His successor, Joe Biden, took a less drastic stance after taking office.
But relations with TikTok were significantly complicated last month when ByteDance had to admit that employees improperly accessed user data to track journalists and identify the source of leaks to the media.
A shower of criticism fell on TikTok both in the United States and abroad.
I try to agree
TikTok has been trying for months to find a long-term partnership with the US government through the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).
Sources close to the matter revealed that TikTok and the Biden administration were close to reaching an agreement that would have put in place strict security measures for US user data.
“The solution that CFIUS is aiming for is a comprehensive set of measures with various levels of government and independent control… This goes far beyond what any similar company is doing today,” Brooke Oberwetter, a spokeswoman for CFIUS, told AFP. TikTok.
But negotiations are stalled, especially since FBI Director Christopher Wray has said he continues to view TikTok as a threat to America’s national security.
Wray warned last month that Beijing has the ability to control the app’s algorithm, making US users vulnerable to a government “that doesn’t share our values and has a mission that is in complete contradiction to our best interests.” of the United States”.
TikTok categorically denies that the Chinese government exerts such influence.
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