The UK’s Online Safety Act, which aims to regulate the internet, has been revised to remove a controversial but critical measure.
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Days after Congress passed a bipartisan spending bill banning TikTok from government devices, lawmakers and advocates say they are looking to further regulate social media companies in the new year.
TikTok, a video-sharing app from Chinese company ByteDance, attracts more than 1 billion users every month. Lawmakers and FBI Director Christopher Wray have raised concerns that TikTok’s ownership structure could leave US user data vulnerable, as China-based companies may be required by law to give out user information.
TikTok has repeatedly said that its US user data is not stored in China, although those assurances have done little to allay concerns.
Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisc., compared TikTok to “digital fentanyl” on Sunday, telling NBC’s Meet the Press that he thinks the app’s ban should be expanded statewide.
“It’s very addictive and destructive,” he said. “We’re seeing disturbing data about the corrosive effects of constant use of social media, particularly on young men and women here in America.”
Facebook Whistleblower Frances Haugen said on Sunday that as social media platforms like TikTok, Twitter and YouTube work with similar algorithms, regulators should push for more transparency about how they operate as a first step.
Haugen said she thinks most people are unaware of just how far behind the US is in terms of social media regulation.
“It’s like we’re in 1965, we don’t have seat belt laws yet,” she told NBC’s Meet the Press.
Congress failed to pass many of the most aggressive tech-targeting bills in 2022, These include antitrust laws that would require app stores developed by Apple and Google to offer developers more payment options, and a measure mandating new guard rails to protect children online. Congress has made more headway this year than in the past toward a compromise bill on national privacy standards, but what remains is a patchwork of state laws that govern how consumer data is protected.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said many of these bills have bipartisan support and many have made it into the Senate. But she said the tech lobby is so powerful that bills with “strong, bipartisan support” could fall apart “within 24 hours.”
Klobuchar said Sunday things will only change at social media companies when Americans decide they’ve had enough.
“We’re lagging behind,” she told NBC’s Meet the Press. “It’s time for 2023, let’s make our resolution that we finally pass one of these bills.”
— CNBC’s Lauren Feiner contributed to this report
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