tiktok ban bill

Lawmakers are urging the intelligence community to declassify information pertaining to the “significant risks” of TikTok. Photo Credit: Solen Feyissa

Ahead of a key Senate vote that will determine TikTok’s fate in the U.S., lawmakers are calling on the director of national intelligence to declassify information about “the significant risks the social media platform’s Chinese ownership poses to our national security.”

Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) just recently made their case for declassification in an open letter to Director Avril Haines. Of course, the bipartisan public-disclosure entreaty has arrived after the House overwhelmingly passed a bill that would compel ByteDance to sell or shut down TikTok in the States.

And with the White House having already expressed support for the measure, the forthcoming Senate vote will prove important in and well beyond the music industry. Moreover, while evidence suggests that the bill might be proceeding quickly through the Senate, its exact path in the chamber, not to mention the vote outcome itself, remains to be seen.

Enter the initially highlighted declassification letter, which, along with a possible public hearing on the relevant TikTok bill, could have far-reaching effects on forced-sale discussions.

“American intelligence and law enforcement officials on a bipartisan basis have repeatedly raised alarms that the Chinese government can use its direct and absolute control over ByteDance to exert malign influence over what users see on TikTok and spy on their private information,” Senators Blackburn and Blumenthal recapped, reiterating for good measure examples of the ample security and data criticism surrounding TikTok.

From there, the senators emphasized that they “are deeply troubled by the information and concerns raised by the intelligence community in recent classified briefings to Congress.”

“TikTok is a weapon in the hands of the Chinese government, and poses an active risk to our democratic institutions and national security,” the lawmakers proceeded.

Needless to say, the clear-cut remarks are prompting speculation as to the details of the “recent classified briefings.” Assuming said briefings have in fact delivered especially troubling information, their declassification could potentially influence public opinion.

On the other side of the equation, though, this influence’s scope won’t necessarily be substantial. A number of senators have seemingly locked in their positions on the bill, while massive security and data-privacy concerns have for years failed to convince TikTok users to abandon the app.

Those concerns include but certainly aren’t limited to the storage of U.S. user data in China, where Beijing can order ByteDance (part of which belongs to the Chinese government) to turn over information.

Separately, TikTok has long been banned on government devices in the States, the European Union, and elsewhere, with ByteDance and the app having been fined on multiple occasions for allegedly misusing children’s data.

Notwithstanding these points, it’ll be worth keeping an eye out for the possible declassified TikTok information – and the vote on the forced-sale bill. Despite the threat of a possible stateside shutdown, on top of a well-documented Universal Music licensing dispute, TikTok isn’t shying away from the music space.

To be sure, the platform only yesterday released its “TikTok Global Music Newsletter,” described as a “new monthly look at the songs and artists from around the world trending on TikTok.”

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