Members Of Congress Propose Banning TikTok Nationwide

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Three members of Congress introduced legislation on Tuesday that would ban TikTok from operating in the U.S.

The Anti-Social CCP Act, introduced by Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Republican Wisconsin Rep. Mike Gallagher, and Democratic Illinois Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, would prohibit social media companies owned by companies based in China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela from operating in the U.S. Many members of Congress have expressed concern about TikTok’s collection of user data, and several states have banned government employees from downloading it to their phones.

“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,” Rubio said in a statement.

The Trump administration banned Americans from communicating with TikTok’s parent company ByteDance in 2020, citing national security concerns. Federal judges overturned Trump’s executive orders and President Joe Biden formally rescinded them in 2021. (RELATED: TikTok Threatens Legal Action Against Trump, Says Executive Order Banning The App Is Illegal)

TikTok captures a wide swathe of its users’ data, including biometric information such as face prints and voiceprints. The company paid a $92 million settlement in early 2021 for violating an Illinois state law regulating biometric collection, The Associated Press reported. Despite the company’s claims, all TikTok user information is accessible by employees in China, who are required to share it with the government if asked, Buzzfeed reported.

“TikTok is digital fentanyl that’s addicting Americans, collecting troves of their data, and censoring their news. It’s also an increasingly powerful media company that’s owned by ByteDance, which ultimately reports to the Chinese Communist Party – America’s foremost adversary,” Gallagher said in a statement.

Several states have banned government employees from using TikTok on their work phones, citing its data collection practices and connections to China. They include Nebraska, Texas, Maryland, South Carolina, Utah, Alabama, and South Dakota.

“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 added.

Anti-China measures received bipartisan support during the 117th Congress. President Joe Biden signed into law legislation prohibiting imports from the Xinjiang region, as well as a bill intended to jump-start the domestic semiconductor fabrication industry.