United States Senators are taking aim at TikTok, with a new law designed to ban the social media platform. The bill is being introduced by the Senate Intelligence Committee's top Republican, Marco Rubio, who is working with "a bipartisan pair" of Representatives from the House ( Mike Gallagher R-Wisconsin, Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-IL). 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. That list includes Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, and China, which is where TikTok's parent company ByteDance is based. In fact, ByteDance is specifically named in the bill Rubio is proposing.
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."
Can The US Government Ban TikTok?
This bill is certainly picking a fight with both the powers in China that Rubio and co. reference, as well as the entire community of the social media platform, which is arguably the dominant one in the current generation of users.
That said, TikTok is arguably in a uniquely vulnerable position. The platform's ownership being under the influence of the Chinese government – and the already clear data mining processes it allows for – is something that can be easily harvested as political capital. While banning a social media platform seems near-impossible under the freedoms of US law, stopping a potential spy service from influencing and/or spying on Americans is a much easier sell. It all depends on if these lawmakers can frame it that way.
We'll keep you updated on the status of TikTok. Probably not faster than TikTok.0comments