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Tik Tok ban – U.S. house committee makes a unanimous decision

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The U.S. House Energy and Commerce committee has given the green light to a bill aimed at cracking down on TikTok and other Chinese-owned social media platforms.

The legislation, which seeks to address national security concerns, is part of a broader effort to safeguard American user data from potential misuse by foreign entities, as reported by Reuters.

Lawmakers aim to expedite the legislative process, with the U.S. House of Representatives considering the bill in the coming weeks.

Tick-tock, TikTok

The 50-0 vote represents the most significant momentum for a U.S. crackdown on TikTok, which has about 170 million U.S. users.

“This legislation has a predetermined outcome: a total ban of TikTok in the United States,” the company said after the vote.

“The government is attempting to strip 170 million Americans of their Constitutional right to free expression. This will damage millions of businesses, deny artists an audience, and destroy the livelihoods of countless creators across the country.”

The legislation’s resistance sets the stage for a potential legal and public relations battle as lawmakers push for the ban.

Chinese ownership

Lawmakers leading the initiative, such as Representative Mike Gallagher and Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, stress the importance of addressing national security concerns associated with Chinese ownership of TikTok.

“TikTok could live on and people could do whatever they want on it provided there is that separation,” Gallagher said

“It is not a ban – think of this as a surgery designed to remove the tumor and thereby save the patient in the process.”

They propose the legislation as a strategic measure, aiming to remove the perceived threat while allowing the platform to continue operating with new ownership.

The closed-door classified briefing on national security concerns provided lawmakers with insights that likely influenced the unanimous vote, indicating a growing bipartisan consensus on the need to act swiftly and decisively regarding TikTok’s ownership structure.

Broader impact

The legislation’s broader implications extend beyond TikTok, potentially impacting Tencent’s WeChat, which faced a ban attempt by then-President Donald Trump in 2020.

Representative Mike Gallagher refrains from speculating on WeChat but underscores the ongoing debate over which companies might fall under the bill’s purview.

The bill proposes a 165-day window for ByteDance to divest from TikTok, with potential consequences for app stores like Apple and Google if divestment does not occur.

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TikTok launches Instagram competitor ‘Notes’

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TikTok Notes has launched in Australia & Canada as a formidable competitor to Instagram, offering a unique platform for content creation, text and sharing.

“TikTok Notes is a lifestyle platform that offers informative photo-text content about people’s lives, where you can see individuals sharing their travel tips and daily recipes,” reads the official App Store description.

Take note

The app allows users to create content by combining short videos with text-based notes, closely resembling that of Meta’s Instagram.

Whether it’s sharing a quick tutorial, a personal anecdote, or a thought-provoking message, TikTok Notes is positioned to be a formidable social media platform.

Currently, the app is only available for download and “limited testing” in Australia and Canada.

As it gains momentum, the platform is poised to contest Instagram’s established reign in the social media landscape.

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Ramifications of a TikTok ban to impact Open Internet

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The United States’ longstanding advocacy for an open internet faces a critical juncture as Congress considers legislation targeting TikTok.

The proposed measures, including a forced sale or outright ban of TikTok, have sparked concerns among digital rights advocates and global observers about the implications for internet freedom and international norms.

For decades, the U.S. has championed the concept of an unregulated internet, advocating for the free flow of digital data across borders.

However, the move against TikTok, a platform with 170 million U.S. users, has raised questions about the consistency of America’s stance on internet governance.

Read more – Big tech to handover misinformation data

Critics fear that actions against TikTok could set a precedent for other countries to justify their own internet censorship measures.

Russian blogger Aleksandr Gorbunov warned that Russia could use the U.S. decision to justify further restrictions on platforms like YouTube.

Similarly, Indian lawyer Mishi Choudhary expressed concerns that a U.S. ban on TikTok would embolden the Indian government to impose additional crackdowns on internet freedoms.

Moreover, the proposed legislation could complicate U.S. efforts to advocate for an internet governed by international organizations rather than individual countries.

China, in particular, has promoted a vision of internet sovereignty, advocating for greater national control over online content.

A TikTok ban could undermine America’s credibility in urging other countries to embrace a more open internet governed by global standards.

 

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BlackRock CEO Larry Fink says AI leads to higher wages

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Larry Fink, the CEO of BlackRock Inc., has outlined his vision for the impact of the firm’s investment in artificial intelligence.

During the company’s recent earnings call, Fink emphasized the connection between productivity gains driven by AI and the potential for rising wages among BlackRock’s workforce.

He explained the firm’s ambition to leverage AI technology to enhance efficiency, enabling employees to accomplish more with fewer resources.

Fink’s remarks underscore BlackRock’s strategic approach to harnessing AI as a tool for optimising operations and driving organisational growth.

Read more – Australia’s productivity gap widens

By leveraging AI-driven productivity enhancements, the company aims to empower its employees to deliver greater value, thereby paving the way for wage increases across the organisation.

The CEO’s statement reflects a broader trend in the intersection of technology and labor dynamics, where advancements in AI and automation have the potential to reshape workforce dynamics and compensation structures.

Fink’s optimism about the transformative impact of AI investment on employee wages highlights BlackRock’s commitment to embracing technological innovation as a catalyst for sustainable business growth and employee prosperity.

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