Congress may be moving closer to banning TikTok

 February 11, 2023

According to U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), "momentum is growing" in the U.S. Congress to pass a piece of legislation that would ban the Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok. 

Rubio, the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, indicated as much in a press release that his office published on Friday.

"Momentum is growing to ban Chinese state-owned TikTok from operating in the United States," the press release states.

"The app, now banned from state government devices in 30 states, is also blocked on most federal devices," it continues.

What's going on?

The problem with TikTok was alluded to at the outset - it is owned by the communist government of China.

Rubio's press release sums the situation up, writing:

As everyone from the FBI Director and FCC Commissioners to cybersecurity experts have warned, TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, is required by Beijing to make the app’s data available to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The documented cases of abuse continue to grow, including spying on American reporters and interfering in the 2022 midterm elections.

There is a twofold concern here.

On the one hand, there is a concern that China is accessing user data. There, in fact, have been insider reports that not only does China have access to the data of Americans that use TikTok but that it actually has accessed such data.

The other concern is that China may be using its control of the app to manipulate users' opinions, particularly around election time. Some argue that China did this around the 2022 midterm elections with messaging about the abortion issue.

Rubio's response

Rubio and U.S. Sen. Angus King (I-ME) have introduced a piece of legislation to ban TikTok here in America.

The bill is called "the Averting the National Threat of Internet Surveillance, Oppressive Censorship and Influence, and Algorithmic Learning by the Chinese Communist Party Act (ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act)."

According to Rubio's press release, the bill "would protect Americans by blocking and prohibiting all transactions from any social media company in, or under the influence of, China, Russia, and several other foreign countries of concern unless they fully divest of dangerous foreign ownership."

It would appear that there is bipartisan support for such a ban on TikTok, but it is unclear whether there is actually enough support to pass such a bill. Rubio says "momentum is growing," but he does not state to what extent it is.

TikTok has already been banned in about 30 states. The federal government has also banned it from government devices.

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Thomas Jefferson
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