A new bill from a bipartisan group of lawmakers, if passed, would ban TikTok in the U.S. after years of broad concern across the Trump and Biden administrations about potential Chinese government influence on the company, CNBC reported.
TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, has raised fears in the U.S. that Chinese government officials could gain access to U.S. user data under Chinese law that could compel the company to hand over information, CNBC reported. TikTok has insisted U.S. user data is safely stored outside of China, which it says would keep it out of reach of government officials.
According to CNBC, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. is in talks with the company about how to resolve some of the data concerns, though a solution has reportedly been delayed. FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before Congress that he’s “extremely concerned” about the Chinese government’s potential influence through TikTok on U.S. users.
Senator Marco Rubio (Republican – Florida) introduced bipartisan legislation to ban TikTok from operating in the United States. U.S. Representatives Mike Gallagher (Republican – Wisconsin) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (Democrat – Illinois) included companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The legislation is titled: “Averting the National Threat of Internet Surveillance, Oppressive Censorship and Influence, and Algorithmic Learning by the Chinese Communist Party Act (ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act)”. The description of the legislation states that it 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.
ArsTechnica reported that the ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act is designed to block and prohibit all transactions by social media companies controlled or influenced by “countries of concern.” The legislation specifically names TikTok and owner ByteDance as existing as national security threats.
According to ArsTechnica, if the legislation is passed, its provisions would also extend to any social media platform controlled by other U.S. foreign adversaries, including Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela.
Engadget reported that while the sponsors of the bill characterize the measure as bipartisan, it’s not clear the call for a TikTok ban has enough support to clinch the necessary votes and reach Biden’s desk. To some degree, Engadget wrote, the ANTI-SOCIAL CPP Act is more a signal of intent than a practical way to block TikTok.
There is no way to know, for certain, whether or not this bill will become law. Personally, I think it is a good idea to prevent lawmakers from having TikTok on their devices, especially if there are valid concerns about TikTok collecting data through its app.