Lawmakers of the United States Senate have introduced a bill to ban the use of the popular social media platform, Tiktok, in the country.
One of the bill’s sponsors, Republican Senator Marco Rubio of the Senate Intelligence Committee, stated that the app was not just about creating videos, but it served as a major tool in the hands of the Chinese Government to obtain sensitive data from Americans.
“This is about an app that is collecting data on tens of millions of American children and adults every day,” he wrote in a statement shared on Tuesday.
He added, “We know it’s used to manipulate feeds and influence elections. We know it answers to the People’s Republic of China. There is no more time to waste on meaningless negotiations with a CCP-puppet company. It is time to ban Beijing-controlled TikTok for good.”
The proposed legislation, in general, is aimed at protecting “Americans from the threat posed by certain foreign adversaries using current or potential future social media companies that those foreign adversaries control to surveil Americans, learn sensitive data about Americans, or spread influence campaigns, propaganda, and censorship.”
However, the bill mentions TikTok and its parent company, Bytedance, as well as other subsidiaries of the company, as social media platforms of particular concern.
The new bill follows a flurry of actions already taken by Republican-led states. States like Texas, South Dakota, and Maryland, have all moved to restrict the use of Tiktok on government-owned devices.
Similarly, the US military, the State Department, and the Department of Homeland Security have all restricted the app from operating on their computer devices.
Shortly before the end of his tenure, former president Donald Trump issued an executive order to ban the app unless it was sold to an American company. The order was challenged in court and was later overturned by the incumbent Biden administration.
US increases interest rates by 25 basis points, says more hikes to come
The United States Federal Reserve (Fed), on Wednesday, raised its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to a target range of 4.5 percent to 4.75 percent.
This is the eight consecutive increase by the US central bank since March 2022 as it attempts to curb inflation.
In a statement issued after a two-day meeting, the bank’s federal open market committee (FOMC) said inflation has eased somewhat, but remains elevated.
It further warned that “ongoing increases” would be needed to bring inflation under control.
“The committee seeks to achieve maximum employment and inflation at the rate of 2 percent over the longer run,” the statement reads.
“In support of these goals, the committee decided to raise the target range for the federal funds rate to 4-1/2 to 4-3/4 percent.
“The committee anticipates that ongoing increases in the target range will be appropriate in order to attain a stance of monetary policy that is sufficiently restrictive to return inflation to 2 percent over time.”
In determining the extent of future increases in the target range, the committee said it would take into account the cumulative tightening of monetary policy, the lags with which monetary policy affects economic activity and inflation, and economic and financial development.
FOMC also said it would continue to reduce its holdings of treasury securities and agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities.
“In assessing the appropriate stance of monetary policy, the committee will continue to monitor the implications of incoming information for the economic outlook,” the statement adds.
“The committee would be prepared to adjust the stance of monetary policy as appropriate, if risks emerge that could impede the attainment of the committee’s goals.
“The committee’s assessments will take into account a wide range of information, including readings on labour market conditions, inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and financial and international developments.”
41 passengers killed as bus plunges off bridge in Pakistan
At least 41 people have been killed after a passenger bus fell into a ravine in Lasbela, Pakistan on Sunday morning.
A ravine is a narrow steep-sided valley that is larger than a gully and smaller than a canyon.
Hamza Anjum, Lasbela’s assistant commissioner, told Dawn, a local news site, that the bus caught fire after it crashed into the ravine.
Nearly 48 passengers were on board, he added.
“Due to speeding, the coach crashed into the pillar of a bridge while taking a U-turn near Lasbela. The vehicle subsequently careened into a ravine and then caught fire,” Dawn quoted Anjum as saying.
“It is feared that the driver may have fallen asleep,” News18, another news site, quoted the commissioner as saying.
Anjum said the bodies were charred beyond recognition, adding that DNA tests would be used to determine the identity of the remains which had been “badly mutilated”.
“We will investigate the causes of the accident,” he said.
Three people, including a child and a woman, had earlier been rescued alive. However, one of the injured persons died from injuries on the way to the hospital.
Anjum said the number of casualties could further increase to 48, adding that a rescue operation was ongoing.
US imposes visa ban on Nigerians complicit in undermining recent election
The United States says it has imposed visa ban on certain individuals in Nigeria for “undermining democracy” in the country.
In a statement on Wednesday, Antony Blinken, US secretary of state, said the actions were taken after it was observed that some persons were found found complicit in undermining democracy in Nigeria.
The most recent elections in Nigeria were the Ekiti and Osun governorship polls.
According to Blinken, the bans were a show of commitment and support to strengthening democracy in Nigeria.
“Today, I am announcing visa restrictions on specific individuals in Nigeria for undermining the democratic process in a recent Nigerian election,” the statement reads.
“Under Section 212(a)(3)C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, these individuals will be found ineligible for visas to the United States under a policy to restrict visas of those believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy in Nigeria.”
The ban may also affect certain family members of the affected individuals.
Blinken also said the restrictions were not targeted at the general populace of the country or the government, but that it was aimed at curbing corruption.
“The visa restrictions announced today are specific to certain individuals and are not directed at the Nigerian people or the Government of Nigeria,” the statement reads.
“The decision to impose visa restrictions reflects the commitment of the United States to support Nigerian aspirations to combat corruption and strengthen democracy and the rule of law.
“Additional persons who undermine the democratic process in Nigeria—including in the lead-up to, during, and following Nigeria’s 2023 elections—may be found ineligible for U.S. visas.”
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