Daily Skimm: TikTok, Biden Docs, and Glee – theSkimm
The clock could be ticking for one of the world's most popular social media apps.
For years, TikTok — which is owned and developed by a Chinese company called ByteDance — has had lawmakers and experts sounding the alarm over national security concerns. They worry that the Chinese government can gain access to personalized data on US citizens through a Chinese law that could require ByteDance to turn it over. We're not talking just names and email addresses — but data like "faceprints and voiceprints." Essentially, everything from the objects and scenery in your videos to keystroke patterns that could create a very specific user behavior profile.
In 2020, then-President Trump signed an executive order aimed at banning TikTok — something President Biden revoked and replaced in 2021 when he called on the gov to review apps controlled by foreign adversaries. That review could come within the next few weeks. Meanwhile, Biden last month banned TikTok from nearly 4 million federal devices. That’s after Maryland, South Dakota, and Nebraska took things into their own hands. But now, two years into negotiations with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US, ByteDance reportedly has a plan it hopes will convince critics it’s not a national security threat.
For months, TikTok has been housing its American users’ data in a California-based cloud software company. Now, it’s reportedly offering to spend $1.5 billion to build out a unit that would oversee all the data — as well as its scary accurate algorithm. The reported plan is to hire 2,500 people, none of whom would be Chinese nationals. A spokesperson for TikTok says the company looks forward to putting “concerns to rest.” No word yet from the Treasury Department. The Chinese government will also likely need to clear the deal.
TikTok has at least 100 million users in the US alone — and is the first social media giant from outside the US. But the race is on to prove to US lawmakers it’s safe — otherwise the US government is threatening to unfollow.
The Biden papers. On Saturday, the White House acknowledged five more pages of classified docs found in President Biden’s Delaware home from his time as VP. That’s in addition to the two other batches of docs we learned about last week: one in DC and the other in his garage. Both were flagged to the Justice Department weeks ago but were not made public until CBS broke the news. The DOJ has appointed a special counsel to look into this. But House Republicans aren’t waiting around. Over the weekend, the House Oversight Committee asked the Biden admin to hand over a list of all the visitors at the president's home since he took office. They also demanded any and all documents related to the search of Biden’s home, the names of the aides that located the docs, and who else may have access to the area where the docs were found. The White House’s response: “his personal residence is personal.” Meanwhile, former President Trump — himself the subject of a classified docs investigation — criticized the garage the docs were found in as “flimsy, unlocked, and unsecured.”
Matteo Messina Denaro. Yesterday, Italy’s most wanted fugitive was arrested after 30 years on the lam. The Cosa Nostra Mafia boss has been accused of dozens of murders in the ‘90s — including allegedly killing two anti-Mafia prosecutors and an informant's son. He was also personally implicated in deadly bombings in Milan, Florence, and Rome. But on Monday, Italian police arrested him in a Sicilian clinic where he was reportedly undergoing colon cancer treatment. Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni called his capture a “great victory.”
Nepal. Yesterday, investigators said they recovered flight data and cockpit voice recorders from the country’s deadliest plane crash in 30 years. On Sunday, a Yeti Airlines flight carrying 72 people crashed en route from Kathmandu to a new airport in the popular tourist destination Pokhara. 68 people have been confirmed dead, while the other four are missing. The latest tragedy comes to a country with a history of deadly crashes, many attributed to unpredictable weather and difficult terrain. But experts point out there were clear skies at the time of the crash. Now, the data could help authorities determine what caused it.
Glee comes with a price.
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