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Why US Lawmakers Propose Bill To Ban Tiktok



Why US Lawmakers Propose Bill To Ban Tiktok

The US is relentlessly pushing to ban TikTok permanently as concern that it poses a national security threat heightens.

On Tuesday, Sen. Marco Rubio, introduced a bipartisan legislation that would ban the short-video app from operating within the United States, after executive attempts to ban TikTok by former president Donald Trump failed.

The bill, “the Averting the National Threat of Internet Surveillance, Oppressive Censorship and Influence, and Algorithmic Learning by the Chinese Communist Party, or ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act,” is the first legislative move by the US Congress to stop TikTok – although individual lawmakers have been pushing for the app’s ban.

The Rubio bill already has bipartisan support in the House, with Reps. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., and Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., authoring companion legislation.

“The federal government has yet to take a single meaningful action to protect American users from the threat of TikTok,” Rubio said in a statement.

“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. We know it’s used to manipulate feeds and influence elections. We know it answers to the People’s Republic of China. There is no more time to waste on meaningless negotiations with a CCP-puppet company. It is time to ban Beijing-controlled TikTok for good.”

In 2020, Trump went all out against TikTok in a frenzy of attacks aimed at halting the company’s operation in the US. Though TikTok got a reprieve from court to stay in business – and the subsequent decision of President Joe Biden to rescind some of Trump’s executive orders targeting Chinese tech companies operating in the US reduced its plights, the company remains under the radar.

TikTok’s problem stems from its ownership by Chinese parent company ByteDance. Washington is concerned that Beijing could have access to the data of its American users.

Recently, US authorities intensified warning that TikTok is subject to the authority of the Chinese Communist Party, which means that they could demand and use private data from TikTok for intelligence operations.

Early this month, FBI director Chris Wray said the CCP’s authority over all Chinese companies “allows them to manipulate content, and if they want to, to use it for influence operations.”

His warning has been resounded by several lawmakers, including Rubio and Krishnamoorthi.

“At a time when the Chinese Communist Party and our other adversaries abroad are seeking any advantage they can find against the United States through espionage and mass surveillance, it is imperative that we do not allow hostile powers to potentially control social media networks that could be easily weaponized against us,” Krishnamoorthi said in a statement.

Besides banning government officials from using TikTok, some US states are prohibiting state agencies and employees from using the platform.

TikTok has recorded unprecedented growth, surpassing Facebook and Google to become the most popular website in the world this year. But as the platform grows in popularity, concern over its ability to manage private data of users grows too – mainly due to its connection to China.

TikTok has always maintained that its operation has no ties with Beijing, allaying the concern that it could serve as a conduit to the CCP.

TikTok Chief Operating Officer Vanessa Pappas, in Sept. 14 testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee,  said the Chinese government exercises influence over TikTok “in no way, shape or form.”

However, the US authorities are far from believing anything the company is saying.

“TikTok is digital fentanyl that’s addicting Americans, collecting troves of their data and censoring their news,” Gallagher said. “Allowing the app to continue to operate in the U.S. would be like allowing the U.S.S.R. to buy up the New York Times, Washington Post and major broadcast networks during the Cold War. No country with even a passing interest in its own security would allow this to happen, which is why it’s time to ban TikTok and any other CCP-controlled app before it’s too late.”

TikTok has made many changes to clear the concerns; including partnering with American companies to store users’ data – moving its data centers away from China. The company is currently in negotiations with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States over such national security concerns.

However, this bill is a new threat to TikTok’s existence in the United States, and if it passes, the company will see its growth significantly decline.

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