According to a 100-page confidential draft, the agreement would allow the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Defense (DoD) to conduct unannounced inspections of TikTok's facilities, records, equipment and servers in the U.S.; block changes to their terms of service, moderation policies and privacy policies; veto the hiring of executives responsible for TikTok's U.S. Data Security; mandate audits, assessments and security reports on TikTok's U.S. functions; and stop TikTok's operations in the U.S. if needed.
Furthermore, the draft agreement outlines the establishment of independent investigative bodies to supervise the U.S. operations of TikTok, including third-party monitors, auditors, cybersecurity experts, and source code inspectors. It also proposes an executive security committee, independent of ByteDance, to make decisions related to national security matters.
This agreement relates to the investigation conducted by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) more than four years ago against the potential national security threats of TikTok. Meaning to say, this negotiation between ByteDance and the Biden administration is an attempt to stop the government from completely banning TikTok operations in the United States.
However, ByteDance strongly opposes the overall control of the U.S. government and its potential impact on the operation of the social media app. CFIUS, in response, acknowledges that there might be situations where contract vetoes are necessary, but they might not disclose the reasons to ByteDance.
The CFIUS stated the fact that the DOJ and DoD heavily rely on human intelligence like informants and sources to identify potential threats to national security. If, for instance, they receive information about a specific vendor or the potential collection of certain data by a foreign government, they might opt to veto the vendor or modify the data without disclosure to avoid compromising the tip.
In trying to prevent foreign interference, the initial agreement might give the U.S. government the same power that it fears the Chinese government might abuse.
"If this agreement would give the U.S. government the power to dictate what content TikTok can or cannot carry, or how it makes those decisions, that would raise serious concerns about the government’s ability to censor or distort what people are saying or watching on TikTok," Patrick Toomey, deputy director of the ACLU's National Security Project, told Forbes in an interview.
TikTok, with over 150 million American users spending an average of 90 minutes per day on the platform, contributes to major influence over cultural discourse and commerce. Therefore, the government's potential influence over TikTok's content and decision-making could lead to censorship and manipulation of content based on their preferences.
In essence, the government could spy on its own citizens' activities on TikTok. This initial agreement adds a new layer of complexity to the ongoing debate over national security, privacy rights and the role of tech giants and the government in protecting national privacy and individual freedoms.
Learn more about government surveillance programs at Surveillance.news.
Watch this video to learn more about the spyware the CCP forces on TikTok to infiltrate and surveil America.