US Senate Majority Leader Foresees Senate Advancement on TikTok Bill

US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer unveils a comprehensive legislative plan, potentially including a TikTok bill, amidst growing concerns over national security and digital governance.

By Raunak Bose
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US Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer

US Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer. (Image via CNN)

US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has unveiled a very intensive legislative plan for the session of the Senate which is already this year, and there is a strong chance that the plan will include a TikTok bill. Legislators are out on their summer break and Senator Schumer has put on the table several bipartisan bills that are likely to be considered amongst which are those related to children’s online safety, rail safety, and international internet subsidies for low-income households.

Another significant aspect is the deadline set by the U.S. House of Representatives that gave ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company. It has a 6 months timeframe to sell its American assets or face a ban. Schumer did not express what he expects to occur with TikTok, however, he predicted that the legislative session will closely examine the opportunity of passing legislation.

On the one hand, this issue is quite compelling, but on the other hand, no decisions have been formally announced, and senators are in the process of reaching an agreement on what would be the best course of action. At the same time, Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell has acknowledged the need to hold the public hearing on the proposed TikTok regulation, emphasizing equal rights of American citizens from various foreign threats and factors.

TikTok’s National Security Concerns and Privacy Claims

National security is what the debate most focuses on connected to TikTok.With accusations emerging on China's possibility to use the platform to gain access to sensitive user data. TikTok declines any wrongdoing and at the same time claims its devotion to protecting the privacy of Americans' data, but the lawmakers and the Biden administration ensure its security by setting up some rigorous measures to alleviate any potential risks.

ByteDance, Chinese Owner of TikTok (Image via The Economist) 

As the pressure continues to grow, TikTok has taken major actions to strengthen its data protection measures with billions invested in high-standard security systems and the establishment of data centers within the United States. Although a lot has been done to keep the fate of TikTok unknown to companies and individuals, it is clear that issues of regulation, technology, and geopolitics are complex in nature.

Amongst all this chaos, the opposition to a TikTok ban caves the importance of the platform's cultural significance, as well as the possible violation of First Amendment rights. About 170 million Americans now use TikTok, and this app is rightfully considered a dominating force in digital culture since it gives users the space for artistic production, sharing thoughts and emotions, and creating communities.

While the discussion is going ahead, policymakers are struggling to find a compromise between security goals on the national level and the protection of the same rights as well as technological development. The conclusion of the legislative deliberation over TikTok might have vast consequences either for social media regulation or international relations and digital governance.

In the course of the next few weeks, senators will keep forging ahead trying to find the point of balance between national interests and democratic values in such a highly dependable global world.

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