TikTik regulation bill’s future looking wobbly in Senate as calls—and threats—pour in


A few words in messages left for North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis was laughing, but the words were scary.

“Okay, listen, if you block TikTok I’ll find you and shoot you,” said one, laughing and speaking in a young voice in the background. “I will shoot you and find you and I will cut you to pieces.” Another threatened to kill Tillis, and then to kill himself.

Tillis’ office says it has received about 1,000 calls about TikTok since The House passed the law this month they can block a popular program if the Chinese owner does not sell his shares. TikTok has been encouraging its users – many of whom are young – to call their representatives, even providing a simple link to phone numbers. “The government is taking away the community that you and millions of other Americans love,” read one message from the company when users opened the app.

Tillis, who sponsors the House bill, told police. “What I hated was that it shows the power that social media has over young people,” he said in an interview.

Although crueler than most, TikTok’s biggest campaign to attract people it’s the latest attempt by tech companies to get rid of any new regulations – and it’s a battle that companies are winning most of the time. For years Congress did failed to act on the bills which would protect users’ privacy, protect children from online threats, hold companies accountable for their content and put barriers around artificial intelligence, among other things.

“I mean, it’s embarrassing,” said Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., a former tech executive who also supports the TikTok bill and has long tried to pressure his colleagues to regulate the business. “I wouldn’t hate for us to keep almost zero on the legal side of technology.”

Some see the TikTok bill as the best chance at the moment to regulate the technology and set a precedent, if narrowly focused on just one company. President Joe Biden has said he will sign the House bill, which passed 362-65 this month after a narrow 50-0 committee vote that moved it to the floor.

But it is already making its way through the Senate, where there is little disagreement over the best way to ensure that China does not obtain private information from the 170 million US users or influence them through its channels.

Some points are holding back the Senate. The technology industry is broad and falls under the jurisdiction of several different committees. In addition, the issues at play are not well aligned, making it difficult for lawmakers to agree on what needs to be done and how laws should be drafted. Senate Commerce Committee Chairwoman Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., has so far been reluctant to approve the TikTok bill, for example, calling for public hearings and suggesting the Senate may want to rewrite it.

“We’re moving,” Cantwell said. “It’s important to improve.”

Warner, on the other hand, says the House Bill is the best chance to take action after years of inaction. And he says threatening phone calls from young people are a good example of why the laws are needed: “It boils down to the point, do we really want these kinds of messages to be controlled by the Chinese Communist Party?”

Some lawmakers are worried that a ban on TikTok could angering millions of young people who use the app, an important part of the voter turnout for the November election. But Warner says “the debate has shifted” from the ban a year ago to a House bill that would force TikTok, the Chinese technology company ByteDance Ltd. selling the price for the program to continue working.

Vice President Kamala Harris, in a television interview that aired Sunday, acknowledged the program’s popularity and that it has become a source of income for many people. He said the authorities do not want to ban TikTok but instead deal with its ownership. “We understand its purpose and its importance and the joy it brings to so many people,” Harris told ABC’s “This Week.”

Republicans are divided. While many of them support TikTok’s regulation, some fear it will be overcrowded and the government is targeting one group.

“The House ban on TikTok isn’t just disruptive; it’s a form of repression that stifles free speech, stifles constitutional rights, and undermines the economic well-being of millions of Americans,” Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky wrote on the X, which was originally. Twitter.

Hoping to persuade his colleagues to support the bill, Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Sen. Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee, has asked news agencies to explain TikTok’s ownership and Chinese ownership in a briefing to senators.

“It is extremely important that the American people, especially TikTok users, understand the national security issues,” the senators said in a joint statement.

Blumenthal and Blackburn have separate legislation that has been in the works for several years to protect children’s online safety, but the Senate has not voted on it. Efforts to regulate online privacy have also stalled, as has legislation to hold tech companies accountable for what they publish.

And efforts by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to quickly move the same legislation controlling the growth of artificial intelligence companies did not show any results.

Schumer has said very little about the TikTok bill or whether it will be tabled in the Senate.

“The Senate will review the legislation after it comes out of the House,” is what he said after the House passed the bill.

South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds, a Republican who has worked with Schumer on artificial intelligence initiatives, says he thinks the Senate could eventually pass a TikTok bill, albeit in a different form. He said the summary of the statement “convinced many members” that they need to deal with the collection of data from the app and TikTok’s ability to spread false information to users.

“I think it’s dangerous for our country if we don’t do something,” he said. “It doesn’t have to happen in two weeks, but it has to happen.”

Rounds says he and Schumer are still meeting regularly about creative ideas, and will soon be making their ideas public. He said he is hopeful that the Senate will eventually act to regulate the technology.

“There are going to be some areas that we’re not going to try to get into, but there are some areas that we’re very close to,” says Rounds.

Tillis says senators may need to continue laying the groundwork for a while and educate their colleagues about why certain laws are needed, then focus on passing legislation in the next Congress.

“It can’t be the wild, wild west,” Tillis said.


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