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NCRA announces suspension of TikTok account pending federal legislation, encourages members to follow suit

In anticipation of the bipartisan passing of the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, NCRA is announcing the immediate suspension of its account on the social media platform TikTok. President Biden announced his intent to sign the proposed Act into law the morning after his State of the Union address, stating, “If they [Congress] pass it, I’ll sign it,” according to the Associated Press.

“While our efforts were focused on recruitment for the NCRA A to Z® Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program, we remain committed to putting the interests of our members and their respective industries first,” said the Association’s Executive Director Dave Wenhold, CAE, PLC. “Therefore, NCRA will no longer maintain an active presence on TikTok and encourages our members to do the same in an effort to put the integrity of America’s judiciary system first.”

Various government agencies at the federal, state, and local levels, branches of the military, and privately-owned companies large and small alike have all enacted bans on TikTok to prevent sensitive information such as browsing history, location, and biometric identifiers from being shared with foreign entities.

“Late last year NCRA published the first-of-its-kind white paper dedicated to raising the alarm when it comes to preserving the integrity of America’s judiciary,” said NCRA President Kristin M. Anderson, M.A., RPR, FCRR. “This white paper serves as the tip of the spear in terms of our Association’s 125-year-long effort in service to the guardians of the record.”

Entitled Emerging Ethical and Legal Issues Related to the Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR), Voice Cloning, and Digital Audio Recording of Legal Proceedings, the white paper was a culmination of the NCRA STRONG Committee’s five-year-long odyssey in researching and articulating the evolving threat of unregulated data mining of sensitive information pertinent to court reporting, captioning, and legal videography, of which browsing history, location, and biometric identifiers are parts. “Many of our members, official and freelance alike, have access to some of the most sensitive aspects of state and federal government,” said NCRA STRONG Committee Chair Sue A. Terry, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC. “By enacting this recommendation for members, we are standing on the business of guarding the record — something NCRA has done for 125 years now.”

Another aspect of suspending NCRA’s engagement efforts on TikTok is due to the platform’s dependence on captioning generated by artificial intelligence. A recent study showed that because of platforms like TikTok, more than half of Gen Z and Millennial consumers prefer to have captioning for their streaming services.

“Artificial intelligence is just that, artificial,” said Wenhold. “Instead of capturing the spoken word, we are seeing AI-based captioning trying to predict the next word across social media and in places from the courtroom to the board room and even the classroom. This is the corruption of a service that a rapidly growing number of Americans with or without a disability rely upon.” NCRA currently represents nearly 12,000 members, of which 11 percent are captioners who provide CART services, a verbatim and instantaneous capturing of the spoken word with 96 percent accuracy, unlike AI-generated captions.

The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) has been internationally recognized for promoting excellence among those who capture and convert the spoken word to text for 125 years. NCRA is committed to supporting its more than 12,000 members in achieving the highest level of professional expertise with educational opportunities and industry-recognized court reporting, educator, and videographer certification programs. NCRA impacts legislative issues and the global marketplace through its actively involved membership.