WASHINGTON, D.C. – Various executive branch agencies in tandem with the Justice Department have recently advised that the FCC should sever ties with China Telecom Corp when it relates to providing international telecommunication services both to and from the United States.
A DOJ-led review of the company identified “substantial and unacceptable national security and law enforcement risks."https://t.co/S6mqIFz0NG
— NTD News (@news_ntd) April 9, 2020
The advisory came on April 9th from the DOJ, with assistant attorney general for national security John Demers stating:
“Today, more than ever, the life of the nation and its people [run] on our telecommunications networks. The security of our government and professional communications, as well as of our most private data, depends on our use of trusted partners from nations that share our values and our aspirations for humanity.”
The DOJ took a gander at China Telecom’s existing authorizations and fathomed that the company wasn’t living up to mandated measures that were agreed upon with them and the Justice Department.
Trump Administration Wants China Telecom's US License Revoked: Cybersecurity and National Security Concerns Cited in Request to FCC The Justice Department and several other federal executive branch agencies are asking the Federal Communications… https://t.co/F8rIVe7jtQ pic.twitter.com/4fji8znwKB
— Shah Sheikh (@shah_sheikh) April 10, 2020
Seeing that there are direct ties between China Telecom and the People’s Republic of China, there’s concern that the PRC might be able to exploit the telecommunications company.
Citations during the recommendation noted that there’s “increased knowledge of the PRC’s role in malicious cyber activity targeting the United States.”
Several executive branches of the federal government, including the Justice Department, have urged the Federal Communications Commission to ban China Telecom from operating in the United States. https://t.co/aHxjzpr2Ly #USNews #USRC pic.twitter.com/d7Lw83EYXF
— Top U.S. & World News? (@USRealityCheck) April 10, 2020
The United States has a history when it comes to shutting down China-owned telecom companies that are operating state-side. In May of 2019, China Mobile Ltd. Was barred from providing any cell service in the U.S. due to concerns of espionage-related exploits that could transpire.
Not to mention, there was also the several sanctions that the U.S. brought against Huawei, a Chinese manufacturer of phones. Once again, there were concerns of China spying on Americans, and even Google refused to allow their landmark applications on any future Huawei devices as a result.
There seems to be an ongoing theme with phone-related tech that comes from China lately.
While the country has been paying attention to the ongoing pandemic, numerous federal agencies have banned the use of the popular app called TikTok.
The controversy around the app, and where it originates from, is the source of the months’ long concern and banning throughout the military and the Department of Homeland Security.
One might wonder, why does an app that predominantly revolves around kids dancing to songs worry the United States government?
The answer, in short form, is: China.
While many are aware that various apps on devices collect data for any number of reasons, not every app is owned and run by key individuals in China. The parent company of the popular app is owned by ByteDance, which happens to have some ties to the Chinese Communist Party.
Needless to say, government officials weren’t thrilled at the prospect of user data collected from official devices potentially falling into the hands of those associated with the Chinese Communist Party.
A domino effect started happening in late 2019, with military branches and federal agencies banning TikTok from government owned devices.
On December 16th, 2019, the Pentagon issued a “Cyber Awareness Message” stating that by using the app TikTok it created a “potential risk associated with using” the application. One week following that advisory, the Navy banned the use of TikTok from government-owned devices.
Concerns that TikTok's has ties to the Chinese government have led to its ban from the US Army and Navy. https://t.co/ModBK9kpRq
— CNET (@CNET) December 31, 2019
Next came the Army. They, at one point, used TikTok as a means to attract Gen Z recruits to the branch. They too have deemed the app a “cyber threat” and have disallowed its existence on any government owned devices.
Before long, the Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and Department of Homeland Security banned the app on all their government devices. The TSA even took things a step further in February of 2020, banning employees from using TikTok on personal devices to create videos for the “TSA’s social media outreach.”
TikTok is required under Chinese law to share information with the Chinese government.
Recently, the TSA announced a prohibition on its employees using or downloading TikTok on their government-issued work phones—and my amendment would make this ban law. https://t.co/BrY5QTPsiB
— Rep. Abigail Spanberger (@RepSpanberger) March 5, 2020
As of March, the controversial app is still being discussed, with heavy words coming from U.S. Senator Josh Hawley from Missouri. He thinks that it’s time to flat-out ban the app on every government device across the board:
“TikTok is scooping up immense amounts of data and they are sharing it with Beijing; they are required to. For federal employees, it really is a no-brainer. It’s a major security risk…do we really want Beijing having geolocation data of all federal employees? Do we really want them having their keystrokes?”
.@tiktok_us tracks your search history, your keystrokes, your location – and shares it w/ #china. That’s why Pentagon, State Dept, Homeland Security & TSA banned it for employees. I will introduce legislation to ban @tiktok_us for ALL federal employees on all govt devices
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) March 4, 2020
Common sense would dictate that a distancing from the app, from a government employee perspective, would make sense. While the government cannot regulate what their employees host on their personal devices, they can certainly create mandates around issued-devices.
We’re dealing with an app that is forced to divulge any and all data that the Chinese government requests of it, due to it’s being a Chinese-based company.
Also, the policies TikTok has regarding censoring content bears a striking resemblance to how the Chinese government censors information prior to dissemination.
The Intercept had obtained internal documents from the company stating that they actually throttle videos of fat people, disabled people, and poor people (among other categories). Here are some word-for-word examples of throttled content on the platform:
“Abnormal body shape, chubby, have obvious beer belly, obese, or too thin (not limited to: dwarf, acromegaly) …Ugly facial looks (not limited to: disformatted face, fangs, lack of front teeth, senior people with too many wrinkles, obvious facial scars) or facial deformities (not limited to: eye disorders, crooked mouth disease and other disabilities).”
“Abnormal body shape,” “ugly facial looks,” dwarfism, and “obvious beer belly,” “too many wrinkles,” “eye disorders,” and many other “low quality” traits are all enough to keep user videos out of TikTok's algorithmic fire hose. https://t.co/KMXNEiStL3
— The Intercept (@theintercept) March 16, 2020
So, not only does TikTok share your information with the Chinese government, they apparently don’t like “ugly” or “chubby” people on their platform either.
Now, according to videos that feature those who live in “dilapidated” areas or homes, or even someone with a “crack on the wall,” the company states the following internally:
“This kind of environment is not that suitable for new users for being less fancy and appealing.”
Well, those content moderators for the platform sound like some kind individuals. If you weren’t sold on the safety aspects to distance from the platform, just remember: TikTok also hates your beer belly.
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