At a glance.
- TikTok goes to Washington.
- US lawmakers propose pilot programs to address cybersecurity staffing shortage.
TikTok goes to Washington.
As global lawmakers consider banning the popular Chinese-owned video streaming app due to national security concerns, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is testifying before US Congress today in an attempt to demonstrate the trustworthiness of the platform. Chew is expected to share new data demonstrating that TikTok has 150 million US users, including 5 million businesses, as evidence that the app is too essential a part of American culture to ban. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say TikTok’s potential connection to the Chinese Communist Party and its unbridled access to American user data pose a threat to national security. In addition to the US, the UK, Canada, and Belgium have already banned the app from government devices, and earlier this month Senate intelligence chair Mark Warner proposed the Restrict Act, which would give the US commerce secretary the power to ban TikTok and any other tech from six nations deemed “hostile” to US national security.
Wired notes that, in response to lawmakers’ concerns, TikTok’s Chinese parent company ByteDance has ramped up its lobbying in Washington, nearly doubling its budget from 2020 to 2021. The efforts have seemingly done little to slow the growing threat of a full ban. The White House supports the Restrict Act, and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States is demanding TikTok sever all ties to ByteDance. Some lawmakers feel there is little TikTok can do to change Congress’s mind. Senator Brian Schatz, a Hawaii Democrat, stated, “I don’t think there’s anything they can say. It’s all about what they do, and what they do is pretty alarming.”
US lawmakers propose pilot programs to address cybersecurity staffing shortage.
On Tuesday a bipartisan group of US Senators introduced a pair of bills focused on launching civilian cybersecurity reserve pilot programs within the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). As the country butts up against a shortage of cybersecurity personnel, the programs would aim to strengthen the federal government’s cyber resilience by enabling the DOD and DHS “to recruit qualified civilian cybersecurity personnel to serve in reserve capacities to ensure the U.S. government has the talent needed to defeat, deter or respond to malicious cyber activity, especially at times of greatest need.”
A federal working group recently released a report revealing that there were more than 700,000 cyber job vacancies nationwide, and nearly 40,000 in the public sector. Senator Jacky Rosen, a Nevada Democrat and one of the authors of the bill, stated, “Cybersecurity threats targeting the United States continue to grow in scale and scope, demonstrating the urgent need for robust civilian cyber reserves capable of addressing these threats and protecting our nation. Our bipartisan legislation will help ensure the U.S. government can leverage existing cybersecurity talent from the private sector to help our nation deter and swiftly respond to cyberattacks.” Nextgov notes that the proposed legislation builds on recommendations made in 2020 by the National Commission on Military, National and Public Service and the Cyberspace Solarium Commission.
Tara Wisniewski, EVP of Advocacy, Global Markets and Member Engagement at (ISC)², sees the bill as a step toward developing a realistic national surge capacity for cyber emergencies. "Large-scale cybersecurity events and attacks will happen, and the public and private sectors must prepare accordingly for when the disaster strikes," Wisniewski wrote. "I commend Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) for introducing the Civilian Cybersecurity Reserve Act, as it enables the U.S. to take proactive steps toward cyber resilience. With a cybersecurity workforce gap of more than 436,000 in the U.S., having individuals on hand in reserve capacities can ensure that we effectively mitigate and address the cybersecurity threats at play – ultimately keeping our nation secure. However, as we continue to look for more ways to prepare for the inevitable, it will be essential for the federal government to work towards recruiting and retaining more qualified cybersecurity professionals to keep up with the evolving threat landscape."