Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced bipartisan legislation on Tuesday seeking to ban the popular video-sharing app TikTok from operating in the United States over national security concerns related to its closeness to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The bill, entitled Averting the National Threat of Internet Surveillance, Oppressive Censorship and Influence, and Algorithmic Learning by the Chinese Communist Party, or the ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act, has already received bipartisan support in the House Representatives after Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) agreed to co-sponsor it.
Rubio's argument is that TikTok's Chinese parent company ByteDance remains under the influence of the CCP. Various senior intelligence officials, including FBI Director Chris Wray, have testified that the CCP has control over all companies that “allows them to manipulate content, and if they want to, to use it for influence operations.”
“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.”
Krishnamoorthi similarly pointed out that TikTok could be used as a tool for espionage and mass surveillance.
“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.
TikTok, meanwhile, vigorously denies these claims, with the company's Chief Operating Officer Vanessa Pappas testifying back in September that the Chinese regime exercises influence their operations “in no way, shape or form.”
“TikTok is digital fentanyl that’s addicting Americans, collecting troves of their data and censoring their news,” Gallagher added. “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.”
According to a poll by Rasmussen Reports released earlier this month, most voters believe members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) could be using TikTok for nefarious purposes and would support a full ban on the app. As of now, the company remains in negotiations with the United States Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States over these growing national security concerns.