In a single sense, lately’s US congressional listening to on TikTok was once a large good fortune: It printed, over 5 hours, how desperately the US wishes nationwide data-privacy protections—and the way lawmakers imagine, by some means, that taking swipes at China is an acceptable selection. 

For some, the task on Thursday was once casting the listening to’s most effective witness, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chunk, as a stand-in for the Chinese language executive—in some instances, for communism itself—after which belting him like a facet of pork. Quite a lot of of the questions lawmakers put to Chunk have been obscure, speculative, and immaterial to the allegations in opposition to his corporate. However the contributors of Congress asking the ones questions feigned no interest in Chunk’s responses anyway. 

Makes an attempt by means of Chunk, a 40-year-old former Goldman Sachs banker, to elaborate on TikTok’s industry practices have been continuously interrupted, and his requests to commentary on issues supposedly of substantial hobby to contributors of Congress have been blocked and from time to time not noted. Those alternatives to get the CEO on report, whilst beneath oath, have been many times blown within the identify of expediency and for most commonly theatrical causes. Chunk, by contrast, was once the portrait of endurance, even if he was once being talked over. Even if some lawmakers started asking and, with out pause, answering their very own questions.

The listening to would possibly’ve been a flop, had lawmakers deliberate to dig up new filth on TikTok, which is owned by means of China-based ByteDance, and even hash out what the corporate may do subsequent to allay their issues. However that wasn’t the purpose. The Space Power and Trade Committee was once amassed, it stated, to research “how Congress can safeguard American information privateness and offer protection to youngsters from on-line harms.” And on that, the listening to printed masses.

For something, it’s transparent that the makes an attempt to isolate TikTok from its competition—to regard it in a different way than dozens of different corporations with atrocious information of endangering children and abusing non-public information—is a needless workout. Asking about TikTok’s propensity for surveilling its personal customers, Chicago congresswoman Jan Schakowsky warned Chunk in opposition to the use of felony, conventional trade practices as a protection in opposition to those wrongs. “You could say, ‘no more than different corporations,’” she stated, including that she most popular to not “cross by means of that ordinary.” 

OK. However why no longer? 

In reality that if TikTok have been to fade the next day, its customers would merely flock to any collection of different apps that haven’t any qualms about surveilling essentially the most non-public moments in their lives and gathering, manipulating, and promoting off delicate details about them. Apart from essentially the most critical however in large part unsubstantiated allegations leveled at TikTok—that it’s performing or will act in coordination with Chinese language intelligence products and services—there wasn’t a priority about privateness raised by means of lawmakers Thursday that could not be addressed by means of present regulation supporting a countrywide privateness regulation. 

Making sure that businesses and the information agents they enrich face swift reprisals for blatantly abusing consumer believe would have the good thing about addressing no longer most effective the accusations levied in opposition to TikTok, however deceitful practices commonplace throughout all of the social media trade. 

The irony of US lawmakers pursuing a method to an issue that’s already been solved by means of draft regulation—however no longer in truth fastened because of its personal state of no activity—wasn’t completely misplaced at the contributors. Whilst basically occupied with a unmarried corporate, the listening to, Florida congresswoman Kathy Castor stated, will have to in point of fact function a broader name to motion. “From surveillance, monitoring, private information collecting, and addictive algorithmic operations that serve up destructive content material and feature a corrosive impact on our youngsters’ psychological and bodily well-being,” she stated, American citizens deserve coverage, regardless of the supply. 

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