United States Senators are targeting TikTok with new legislation designed to ban the social media platform. The bill is being introduced by Marco Rubio, the Senate Intelligence Committee's top Republican, and is being backed by a bipartisan group of Representatives from the House.
The legislation in the proposed bill would block and prohibit all transactions from social media companies that have at least one million users based in, or under "substantial influence" of, countries that are considered foreign adversaries to America.
This list includes Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, and China, where TikTok's parent company ByteDance is based. ByteDance is specifically named in the bill. The move to ban TikTok comes amid growing concerns about the security of user data on the platform, as well as the potential for the Chinese government to use the app for surveillance and propaganda.
TikTok has been under scrutiny from US lawmakers for some time, with the Trump administration issuing an executive order in August 2020 calling for a ban on the app. However, the ban was never implemented and was later challenged in court.
Marco Rubio has released a statement about the bill, saying: "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.
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." Representative Krishnamoorthi also put out a statement, expressing the bi-partisan nature of the bill: "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.
The bipartisan ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act is a strong step in protecting our nation from the nefarious digital surveillance and influence operations of totalitarian regimes. Recent revelations surrounding the depth of TikTok's ties to the CCP highlight the urgency of protecting Americans from these risks before it's too late." Despite TikTok's efforts to distance itself from its Chinese parent company and address concerns about user data security, it appears that lawmakers are not convinced.
It remains to be seen whether the legislation will pass, but the move to ban TikTok is a clear indication of the growing concerns among lawmakers about the app and its ties to the Chinese government. If the bill is successful, it could have major implications for TikTok and its millions of users in the US.
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