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Possible banning of TikTok in the USA: what are the lawmakers’ reasons?

The app is only growing in popularity but the company’s ties to China have left lawmakers concerned about potential security risks.

Lawmakers propose banning TikTok

Social media platform TikTok is facing a number of challenges from lawmakers and government officials who are eager to restrict the use of the site. TikTok is owned by Chinese-based company Byte Dance, which has been identified as a potential security threat by some in Congress.

A bipartisan bill introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio (R) and Reps. Mike Gallagher (R) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D) cites claims from the FBI that TikTok could be used to spy on Americans. They introduced the Averting the National Threat of Internet Surveillance, Oppressive Censorship, and Influence, and Algorithmic Learning by the Chinese Communist Party (ANTI-SOCIAL CCP) Act in Congress last month.

“The federal government has yet to take a single meaningful action to protect American users from the threat of TikTok. This isn’t about creative videos — this is about an app that is collecting data on tens of millions of American children and adults every day,” Rubio said, upon unveiling the legislation.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has been in contact with TikTok to resolve concerns over privacy and security, but there has been little solid progress to date.

TikTok is now banned from federal government devices

Shortly after the ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act was introduced in Congress, the federal government took a major step to limit to use of TikTok. In late December an unprecedented ban on TikTok on federal government devices was approved as part of the $1.7 trillion spending bill.

Biden signed it into law last week, the latest stage of a general crackdown on the app on official devices. A number of states have introduced their own versions of the law, preventing the app from being added to government devices.

Most notably, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) imposed a ban on TikTok on government devices in the state. In a statement, she specifically cited concerns about the company’s ties to China.

“The Chinese Communist Party uses information that it gathers on TikTok to manipulate the American people, and they gather data off the devices that access the platform,” she said.

But the concern about TikTok from within the US government are nothing new. Back in 2020 President Trump attempted to impose a ban on the app but was unsuccessful. He signed an executive order which claimed that the data gather by TikTok “potentially allow[ed] China to track the locations of federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage.”

He wasn’t able to make the executive order workable and the ban never went into effect, but it shows that mistrust of TikTok within the US government is both long-standing and bipartisan.


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