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    TikTok sues Montana over ban, claims national security concerns “unfounded” / ArsTechnica · Monday, 22 May - 21:38

TikTok sues Montana over ban, claims national security concerns “unfounded”

Enlarge (credit: PATRICK T. FALLON / Contributor | AFP )

Days after TikTok users sued to block Montana's TikTok ban , TikTok has followed through on its promise to fight the ban and filed its own lawsuit in a United States district court in Montana.

"We are challenging Montana’s unconstitutional TikTok ban to protect our business and the hundreds of thousands of TikTok users in Montana," Brooke Oberwetter, TikTok's spokesperson, told Ars. "We believe our legal challenge will prevail based on an exceedingly strong set of precedents and facts."

TikTok's complaint hits all the same points that TikTok users' lawsuit does.

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    Could TikTok ban bill criminalize VPN use? The EFF says it’s not impossible / ArsTechnica · Friday, 7 April - 19:14

A large TikTok ad at a subway station.

Enlarge / TikTok ad at a Metro station in Washington, DC on March 30, 2023. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

Banning TikTok has been a hot topic in Congress lately. But if lawmakers go through with a ban on the social network owned by Chinese company ByteDance, the US could end up banning or restricting access to many more apps and technology products than just TikTok.

A leading "TikTok ban" candidate is the RESTRICT Act , or the Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology Act. The bipartisan Senate bill was introduced a month ago and endorsed by the White House in an official statement from National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan. The Biden administration reportedly provided feedback on a draft of the proposed law before it was announced.

The bill doesn't actually guarantee that TikTok will be banned—its text doesn't even mention TikTok or ByteDance. But it would give the secretary of Commerce and president broad power to ban mobile or desktop applications and other types of technology products from countries regarded as threats to national security.

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    Cops raided Afroman’s home, then sued him for using footage in music videos / ArsTechnica · Friday, 24 March - 16:03 · 1 minute

Singer-songwriter Joseph Foreman, better known as "Afroman," clowns around poolside at an Orange County hotel.

Enlarge / Singer-songwriter Joseph Foreman, better known as "Afroman," clowns around poolside at an Orange County hotel. (credit: Don Bartletti / Contributor | Los Angeles Times )

Seven Ohio cops who raided a rapper known as Afroman’s house last summer are now suing the rapper after Afroman made music videos using footage from the raid. The Adams County Sheriff’s Office police officers allege that the rapper is profiting off unauthorized use of their likenesses, not only in the music videos but also on merchandise created after Afroman’s social media posts and music videos went viral on platforms like TikTok and Instagram.

Cops suing say they’ve been subjected to death threats, ridicule, reputation loss, embarrassment, humiliation, emotional distress, and other alleged harms and will continue to suffer unless the court forces Afroman to destroy all the merchandise and posts bearing their likenesses.

Ars couldn’t immediately reach Afroman, whose real name is Joseph Foreman, for comment, but Vice talked to him in January. Afroman told Vice that after the raid, he suffered, too, losing gigs and feeling powerless. He decided to create music videos for songs called “Lemon Pound Cake,” “Why You Disconnecting My Video Camera,” and “Will You Help Me Repair My Door” to reclaim his good name.

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    TikTok CEO fails to convince Congress that the app is not a “weapon” for China / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 23 March - 22:21

TikTok Chief Executive Officer Shou Zi Chew testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Enlarge / TikTok Chief Executive Officer Shou Zi Chew testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. (credit: Kent Nishimura / Contributor | Los Angeles Times )

For nearly five hours, Congress members of the House Committee on Energy & Commerce grilled TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew over concerns about the platform's risks to minor safety, data privacy, and national security for American users.

“The American people need the truth about the threat TikTok poses to our national and personal security,” committee chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wa.) said in her opening statement, concluding that “TikTok is a weapon.”

Rodgers suggested that even for Americans who have never used the app, “TikTok surveils us all, and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is able to use this as a tool to manipulate America as a whole.”

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    US investigates TikTok owner ByteDance’s surveillance of journalists / ArsTechnica · Friday, 17 March - 19:48

A large TikTok logo displayed at a game conference.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Chesnot )

New reports say the US Justice Department is investigating TikTok-owner ByteDance over recent revelations that employees tracked journalists in an attempt to find out who leaked company data to the press.

The Justice Department and US Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia "subpoenaed information from ByteDance regarding efforts by its employees to access US journalists' location information or other private user data using the TikTok app," Forbes reported yesterday . "According to two sources, the FBI has been conducting interviews related to the surveillance."

The investigation was also confirmed today in New York Times and Wall Street Journal articles citing anonymous sources. The investigation reportedly began in December. ByteDance is based in China, and TikTok is facing the possibility of being banned in the US if it doesn't sever ties with its China-based owners.

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    Biden’s TikTok ultimatum: Sever ties with China or face US ban / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 16 March - 16:12 · 1 minute

Biden’s TikTok ultimatum: Sever ties with China or face US ban

Enlarge (credit: NurPhoto / Contributor | NurPhoto )

After US President Joe Biden and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) spent years trying to work out a deal with TikTok that could address national security concerns, Biden seems to have given up. Yesterday, TikTok confirmed that the Biden administration issued an ultimatum to the app’s China-based owners to either divest their stakes or risk a TikTok ban in the US, Reuters reported .

Biden’s demand comes just one week before TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is scheduled to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The Wall Street Journal confirmed that Chew is already in the US and is working with “experienced Washington advisers” to help him defend TikTok against its harshest critics in Congress next Thursday.

Chew told The Journal that forcing a sale does not address national security concerns any better than the deal that TikTok had already worked out with the CFIUS. Under the deal that Biden seems to be shrugging off now, TikTok has already invested billions in moving its US users’ data to US servers and hiring independent monitors to ensure that Americans’ TikTok feeds can’t be manipulated and that their data can’t be accessed by China authorities.

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    Lawsuit: Cop pulled over driver for TikTok livestream—and shared driver’s ID / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 15 March - 20:40 · 1 minute

Lawsuit: Cop pulled over driver for TikTok livestream—and shared driver’s ID

Enlarge (credit: Oliver Helbig | Moment )

A Dallas County Sheriff's Department deputy, Francisco Castillo, was briefly suspended after livestreaming a traffic stop, allegedly just to gain TikTok clout, in 2021. Now, the Texas motorist that he pulled over, Torry Osby, is suing , saying that the deputy exposed Osby to risks of identity theft and break-ins at his home by flashing Osby's driver's license and sharing his personal information to more than 100 followers tuned into Castillo's livestream.

Osby’s lawyer, James P. Roberts, told Ars that it’s unlikely that their client was the only victim of Castillo’s alleged privacy-invading social media abuse. The complaint documents a seeming pattern of Castillo sharing videos while on duty that seemed to get more engagement than his other videos, making it appear likely to Osby's lawyers that Castillo was increasingly motivated to create videos of his police activity in hopes of boosting his likes and followers.

“The deputy’s actions are deeply concerning given the number of other on-duty videos he has deleted from his TikTok account,” Roberts told Ars. “Through the course of this lawsuit, we will undoubtedly uncover other instances of livestreamed interactions with citizens between this deputy and others.”

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    TikTok accused of mishandling sexual harassment allegations / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 14 March - 13:24

TikTok neon sign

Enlarge (credit: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images)

TikTok has been accused of mishandling allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment against a senior manager in London, highlighting longstanding concerns about the working culture at the fast-growing social media platform.

Steve Ware, former head of TikTok’s UK e-commerce studio operations, made inappropriate sexual comments and advances to young female staff members and clients, including influencers who create content on the app, according to four women who worked with him at TikTok.

Ware has told the Financial Times that all allegations against him are “false.”

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