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 August 28, 2023

Biden admin looked to exert authority to spy on TikTok users and moderate content

Records indicate that the Biden administration is determination to control, censor, and eavesdrop on American social media users.

This information came from  a draft of a proposed agreement between Chinese-owned TikTok and the Biden administration reveals the latter's request for extraordinary control over the platform, according to a report by Breitbart News.

The proposed agreement, enumerated in a 100-page draft obtained by Forbes, would give the U.S. government the authority to investigate TikTok's servers without prior notice, which could enable the government to eavesdrop on American users.

The agreement reportedly provides the government the authority to veto any changes to TikTok's content moderation policies, a sign of the administration's preoccupation with censorship of social media users.

According to a report by Forbes, the drafted agreement was being previously negotated and would have given government agencies like the DOJ or the DOD the authority to do a number of thing, including examining TikTok's U.S. facilities, records, equipment and servers with minimal or no notice.

Government agencies would also reportedly be able to block changes to the app’s U.S. terms of service, moderation policies and privacy policy, and veto the hiring of any executive involved in leading TikTok’s U.S. Data Security org.

The agency would also be allowed to order TikTok and ByteDance to pay for and subject themselves to audits, assessments and other reports on the security of TikTok’s U.S. functions.

The article asserted that in some circumstances, the government agencies would be allowed to require ByteDance to temporarily stop TikTok from functioning in the United States.

The proposed agreement would subject TikTok's operations in the United States to extensive oversight by a variety of independent investigative authorities, including a third-party monitor, a third-party auditor, a cybersecurity auditor, and a source code inspector.

It would also compel TikTok U.S. to exclude ByteDance leaders from certain security-related decision-making and instead rely on a secretive executive security committee.

This committee's members would be liable for protecting the national security of the United States, as defined by the Executive Branch, before earning money for the company.

While there is bipartisan concern about the influence of Chinese-controlled TikTok on American citizens, previous proposals to rein in the platform have been characterized by many observers as nothing more than a Patriot Act-style power grab, granting the federal government unprecedented control over a social media platform and its users.

The government is already confronting multiple litigation and investigations alleging collusion with large technology companies to undermine Americans' First Amendment rights.

Its request to influence TikTok's content moderation policies is further evidence of its commitment to regulating speech on social media.

Written By:
Charlotte Tyler

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