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Explaining the threat of a TikTok ban by the Biden administration



The Biden administration is reportedly threatening to ban TikTok. most downloaded and one of most actively used apps in the country sparked suspicion and outrage among users on Thursday.

Some called it a violation of the 1st Amendment. Others have claimed it was a ploy to help Instagram Reels, a short video service from Facebook owner Meta. Some have wondered why TikTok has been singled out as a threat given how many apps collect their users’ personal data.

And some simply turned to politicians for sympathy. “Please don’t ban TikTok. My teenage son and I are enjoying ourselves there,” Twitter user Aimee Vance. tweetedand then added: “Together …”

Here’s a rundown of what’s happening and why, as well as some of the pros and cons of the administration’s position.

What does the administration want?

President Biden is trying to do what President Trump is trying to do: get TikTok out of the hands of a Chinese company that is subject to Chinese law. The app was created by ByteDance, an internet company founded in China in 2012. Although ByteDance has attracted some global investors, it is still controlled by its Chinese founders.

The Trump administration went so far as to ban TikTok in the US in 2020. blocked by two federal courtshowever, which ruled that the administration had overstepped its authority.

More recently, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a group of federal agencies that looks into the national security issues that arise from such investments, issued an ultimatum to ByteDance. Wall Street Journal and a few other outlets: sell TikTok or get banned in the United States. A TikTok spokesperson said the sale would not address national security concerns as it would not place any new restrictions on access to the app’s data.

TikTok’s CEO is due to testify at a congressional hearing next week. The company has offered to store U.S. user data in that country with technical and corporate protections designed to prevent Chinese government access. But US officials do not appear to be convinced that this approach will solve their problems.

Meanwhile, Congress is considering nationwide ban in applications controlled by the Chinese government. And the federal government, like many national and local governments around the world, has banned TikTok from devices issued to its employees. Orange County joined their ranks on Tuesday.

Can the government really ban TikTok?

Telecom industry experts say it’s technically possible, but there are problems.

The key players here are the two companies that make the dominant operating systems and app stores for mobile phones, Apple and Google. They could help the government enforce compliance by removing TikTok from their app stores, which would force anyone who wants to install or update the software on their phones to “download” it from some other source.

It’s not difficult on an Android phone, but it’s more difficult on an Apple iPhone – at least for now. Under US pressure another European governmentsApple will reportedly allow booting on the new operating system, which is expected to be released this year.

However, Apple and Google could go further by using their control of the software on their devices to make their phones incompatible with TikTok. At the very least, they can force current TikTok users to stick with the current version of the software, which will likely degrade in performance over time.

There is a trade-off to this approach, however, says Emma Llanso, director of the Free Expression Project at the Center for Democracy and Technology. Without regular privacy and security updates, the app would be “a great target for people who want to use legacy software,” she said, adding, “It creates another vulnerability that will affect millions of people, including many young people.”

If the government officially outlawed TikTok, network operators could block traffic between the company’s servers and users in the US. But the app’s huge user base may rush to find ways to bypass any barriers, such as using VPNs to connect to TikTok across other countries, said Michael Calabrese, director of the Wireless Future Project at New America. “Smart Chinese know how, like this [it] it should be much easier here,” Calabrese said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes something special.”

Why is TikTok the target?

The Biden administration and members of Congress from both parties have been expressing concerns about TikTok for months. While some legislators have complained about the content of the network and its impact on young people, the main problem lies with the owners of the network.

Sarah Collins, senior policy adviser at advocacy group Public Knowledge, said the potential for exploitation by China’s authoritarian government is what makes the app’s privacy threats unique. “If TikTok was magically owned by an American company, we would be talking about it in the same breath with Google or Facebook,” she said.

TikTok collects a lot of data about its users, including their location and contacts, Collins said. Other companies do too, mainly because federal law does not protect this information. In fact, according to Collins, “there is an entire industry of data brokers selling this data.”

“It’s hard to sort out the TikTok issue when there’s a privacy issue in the US,” she said.

However, there are fears that the Chinese Communist Party or Chinese government officials will require access to data for purposes far less favorable than personalizing your video stream. According to Chinese law, ByteDance must share personal information relevant to national security whenever required by the government.

It is unclear what sensitive data, if any, the Beijing government has collected from TikTok. Part of the problem in evaluating the Biden administration’s stance, Llanso said, is that the intelligence community has not shared the information underlying its concern about TikTok and likely never will.

However, in December, the public saw TikTok’s potential for bullying when the company admitted that some of its employees were using the app to track the whereabouts of journalists. TikTok said employees were tracking news leaks within the company, but for some critics, the episode showed what the Chinese government can do with the platform.

Critics say the Chinese government could not only use the data TikTok already collects, but also force the app to collect additional information solely for government purposes. In addition to the surveillance threat, China may be manipulating TikTok video streams or the app itself to promote its propaganda, they said.

At a congressional hearing last year, FBI Director Christopher Wray said TikTok had raised a number of national security concerns. “These include the possibility that the Chinese government can use it to control the collection of data on millions of users, or manage a recommendation algorithm that can be used for influencer operations if they so desire, or to control software on millions of devices, which gives him the ability to potentially technically compromise personal devices,” Ray said. according to National Public Radio.

And yet, according to Llanso, neither China nor TikTok are unique. Anyone using social media, she says, must assume that multiple governments are trying to influence them—not just authoritarian regimes, but Western democracies as well.

About The Times Utility journalist team

This article was prepared by The Times Service Journalism team. Our mission is to play an important role in the lives of Southern Californians by publishing information that solves problems, answers questions, and helps make decisions. We serve audiences in and around Los Angeles, including current Times subscribers and communities whose needs have historically not been met by our coverage.

How can we help you and your community? Email Utility (at) or one of our journalists: Matt Ballinger, John Healey, Ada Tseng, Jessica Roy and Karen Garcia.

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YouTube reinstates Donald Trump’s account privileges



YouTube suspended former President Donald J. Trump’s account on the platform six days after the January 6 attack on the Capitol. The video platform said it was concerned that Mr. Trump’s lies about the 2020 election could lead to more violence in the real world.

Google-owned YouTube reversed that decision on Friday, allowing Mr. Trump to upload the video to the popular site again. The move comes after similar decisions by Twitter and Meta, which own Facebook and Instagram.

“We have carefully assessed the continued risk of real world violence while balancing the chances of voters to hear equally from major national candidates ahead of the election,” YouTube said on Twitter on Friday. YouTube added that Mr. Trump’s account would have to comply with the site’s content guidelines like any other account.

After false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen were circulated online and helped spark the Jan. 6 attack, the social media giants suspended Mr. Trump’s account privileges. Two years later, the platforms began to relax their content rules. Under the leadership of Elon Musk, Twitter has curtailed many content moderation efforts. YouTube recently fired members of its trust and safety team, leaving one person in charge of setting disinformation policies.

In November, Mr. Trump announced he was running for a second term as president, prompting discussion on social media about whether he should be allowed to return to their platforms. A few days later, Mr. Musk asked Twitter users whether he should reinstate Mr. Trump, and 52 percent of respondents answered in the affirmative. Like YouTube, Meta said in January that it’s important that people hear what political candidates have to say before an election.

The reinstatement of the former president is one of the first significant content decisions YouTube has made under its new chief executive, Neil Mohan, who took the top job last month. Youtube recently. relaxed its profanity rules so that creators who use foul language at the beginning of a video can earn money from the content.

YouTube’s Friday announcement echoes the company and its parent company Google are making conflicting content decisions after a competitor has already taken the same. YouTube, following Meta and Twitter, removed Mr Trump from office after the Capitol attack and lifted the bans.

After losing his bid for re-election in 2020, Mr. Trump has been looking to make it big on his Truth Social, which is known for its loose content moderation rules.

Trump wrote about this on his Facebook page on Friday for the first time since his reinstatement. “I’M BACK!” Mr Trump wrote along with a video in which he said: “Sorry to keep you waiting. Complex business. Difficult.”

Despite recovering his Twitter account, Mr. Trump has not returned to posting from that account.

In his latest tweet on January 8, 2021, he said he would not attend the upcoming inauguration, which will take place at the Capitol.

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Build a remote-controlled robot with your kids for just $149.



TL;DR: Get a 2-in-1 robot build kit with remote control and app control.(Opens in a new tab) for just $148.99 instead of $292 as of March 18th. It’s 48% off for a limited time.

If you’re looking for a way to keep your curious child entertained or want them to spend less time in front of a screen, you can buy an interactive robot kit for them.(Opens in a new tab). These toy sets inspire young students(Opens in a new tab) play and learn math, science, technology and engineering the way they want. While these toys can be pricey, you can now get the 901-piece 2-in-1 Robot Building Kit for just $148.99 (reg. $292).

Entertainment for children and adults

Anyone aged 8 and over can build a robot tank or race car with this set. By assembling 901 parts together, your child can have fun with their parents, siblings or friends to help teach them to work in a team(Opens in a new tab). Once the robot is assembled and charged, your child can control it with a remote control or a Bluetooth connection to a companion app for up to 30 minutes of playtime.

The application offers five game modes.(Opens in a new tab): remote control, programming, path, voice control and gyroscope modes. Your kids can fully immerse themselves in a fantasy world where they are in complete control of their robot.

This set can be assembled by both teenagers and adults. There is no age limit to learn a little more about science and enjoy it.

Safe and durable for gaming

This 2-in-1 robot building kit is made from ABS plastic(Opens in a new tab)which means it is non-toxic and durable. You can let your kids play with your robot for as long as they want without worrying too much about their safety, at least in this regard. The ABS plastic is also strong enough to resist your child’s imagination.

Give your kids a fun challenge that has nothing to do with their phones or tablets. 2-in-1 robot kit with 901 remote and app controlled parts(Opens in a new tab) is now only $148.99 (reg. $292).

Prices are subject to change.

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Try your Irish luck with this puzzle game that can pay up to $1 million.



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