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    Montana’s TikTok ban blocked by federal judge / ArsTechnica · Friday, 1 December - 14:35

Montana’s TikTok ban blocked by federal judge

Enlarge (credit: Bloomberg / Contributor | Bloomberg )

A federal judge has stopped a US state’s landmark ban on TikTok from going into effect, in an important test case for the widespread political backlash that has grown in the country against the Chinese-owned video-sharing app.

Montana’s Senate Bill 419, which was signed by the state’s Republican governor, Greg Gianforte, in May, would have gone into effect in January and imposed a ban on downloads of the app.

On Thursday, Judge Donald Molloy granted TikTok’s request for a preliminary injunction after the ByteDance-owned app challenged the legislation in court, denouncing it as an unconstitutional infringement of its rights. Some users of the app also joined the legal challenge.

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    Montana’s best defense of TikTok ban is deeply flawed, experts say / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 22 August - 21:32

Montana’s best defense of TikTok ban is deeply flawed, experts say

Enlarge (credit: SOPA Images / Contributor | LightRocket )

Over the next few months, Montana must prove that it has the power to do what the federal government has so far only tried and failed to do: ban TikTok.

While TikTok and several state-based app users have claimed that the state's TikTok ban is unconstitutional and improperly attempts to regulate US-China foreign relations, Montana recently raised its best arguments to uphold the ban. In a court filing last week, Montana sought to convince a US district court to reject TikTok's motion to delay the statewide ban from taking effect on January 1, 2024, until the federal case is resolved. Beyond disputing the relevance of constitutional concerns, Montana took a seemingly hostile stance, calling out TikTok for alleged "hypocrisy" and evasiveness of US authorities attempting to protect Americans' data from foreign spying.

"TikTok’s apparent position is it cannot be regulated—by anyone," Montana argued, accusing TikTok of playing "fast and loose" with courts and improperly shifting away from an argument that TikTok made that got Donald Trump's ban overturned.

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    Borax is the new Tide Pods and poison control experts are facepalming / ArsTechnica · Monday, 24 July - 22:54 · 1 minute

A box of borax—not for eating.

Enlarge / A box of borax—not for eating. (credit: Getty | Lauren A. Little )

In the latest health fad to alarm and exasperate medical experts, people on TikTok have cheerily " hopped on the borax train " and are drinking and soaking in the toxic cleaning product based on false claims that it can reduce inflammation, treat arthritis, and "detoxify" the body.

The troubling trend harkens back to both the Tide Pod Challenge trend of 2018, in which teens chomped down on detergent packets on camera, and the infamous " Church of Bleach ," a faux religious organization that sold industrial beach as a "miracle" solution that could cure a variety of serious diseases when ingested. (The family was recently found guilty of fraud and now awaits sentencing.)

Like the bogus trends that came before them, the new borax enthusiasts have drawn on well-worn conspiracy theories and dubious data to support their poisonous practice. In one video, a TikTok user explained that she put borax in her smoothies because " they are spraying us with chemtrails ." Others have suggested borax's unproven health benefits are being purposefully stifled by Big Pharma in a conspiracy to keep people paying for more expensive (and regulated) pharmaceutical products—a common refrain among people peddling unproven health and wellness products.

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    TikTok sues Montana over ban, claims national security concerns “unfounded” / ArsTechnica · Monday, 22 May, 2023 - 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, 2023 - 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, 2023 - 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, 2023 - 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, 2023 - 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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