TikTok affirms that it provided a “kill switch” to the US government

In an effort to allay lawmakers’ worries about national security and data protection, TikTok claims to have given the US government the authority to shut down the platform.

When it started its legal battle against laws that would have banned the app in America unless its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, sold it, it revealed the “kill switch” offer that it had made in 2022.
The rule was adopted in response to worries that TikTok, which ByteDance and the company have always denied, may provide Chinese authorities access to user data from US users.

ByteDance and TikTok are pleading with the courts to overturn the law.

“This law is a radical departure from this country’s tradition of championing an open Internet, and sets a dangerous precedent allowing the political branches to target a disfavored speech platform and force it to sell or be shut down,” they said in their legal submission.

Additionally, they asserted that the US government declined to hold meaningful settlement negotiations after 2022 and cited the “kill switch” offer as proof of the extent to which they were willing to go.

According to TikTok, if the platform had broken any of the guidelines, the government would have had the “explicit authority to suspend the platform in the United States at the US government’s sole discretion.”

According to a draft “National Security Agreement” that TikTok presented in August 2022, the firm would have been required to abide by regulations, including making sure that ByteDance was prevented from accessing the data of US customers and adequately financing its data protection divisions.

It stated that if the government had violated this agreement, the “kill switch” might have been activated.

TikTok’s attorney claims in a letter to the US Department of Justice that the government “ceased any substantive negotiations” following the proposal of the new laws, as first reported by the Washington Post.

The letter, dated April 1, 2024, claims that invitations to meet for more negotiations were disregarded by the US government.
In addition, it claims that TikTok’s request to “visit and inspect its Dedicated Transparency Center in Maryland” was not answered by the government.

In September, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia will hear oral arguments about claims brought by users of TikTok, ByteDance, and other parties.

President Joe Biden signed legislation in April that gives ByteDance until January of next year to sell off its US assets on TikTok or risk being banned.
It began with worries that the 170 million US users of the platform would have their data compromised and given to the Chinese government.
TikTok calls the legislation a “unconstitutional ban” and an affront to the US right to free speech, and it denies sharing the data of overseas users with China.

Project Texas is a deal that is handled by the American company Oracle and demands that US data stays in the nation.

But according to a January 2024 Wall Street Journal investigation, some data was still being exchanged between ByteDance in China and TikTok in the US.

The Washington Post was informed in May by an American government official that “the solution proposed by the parties at the time would be insufficient to address the serious national security risks presented.”

They continued: “While we have consistently engaged with the company about our concerns and potential solutions, it became clear that divestment from its foreign ownership was and remains necessary.”


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