Lawmakers Unveil Plan To Ban TikTok

December 14, 2022

A bipartisan group of lawmakers Tuesday announced legislation to ban the China-based social media app TikTok, saying it could be used by the Chinese government to spy on Americans and censor content.

Sen. Marco Rublo (R-FL) announced the legislation in the Senate, while Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) sponsored a companion bill in the House. The language in the legislation sets out to block all transactions from any social media company in or under the influence of China or Russia, Rubio’s office said in a news release.

It’s the latest round of government pressure against the video-sharing app. On Monday, Alabama and Utah became the latest of at least nine U.S. states to ban the use of TikTok on state government devices and computer networks due to national security concerns.

Those bans followed warnings from FBI Director Chris Wray, who said last month that the Chinese government could use TikTok to control data collection on millions of American users, or to control the recommendation algorithm, which could be used for influence operations.

Over the summer, when Rubio and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether TikTok misled users about the safety of their data, the company pushed back, saying that it has been working on securing data flows and highlighting its progress on a deal to move American info onto Texas-headquartered Oracle servers. 

In 2020, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a powerful national security body, ordered the social media app’s owner ByteDance to divest TikTok because of fears that Americans’ user data could be passed on to China’s communist government.

CFIUS and TikTok have been in talks for months in an attempt to reach a national security agreement to protect the data of TikTok’s more than 100 million users.

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