China’s TikTok is facing new bipartisan legislation to ban the immensely popular social media app over spying concerns. The app, owned by ByteDance, has come under increasing scrutiny as a national security threat.
The Congressional bill’s co-sponsor, Illinois Democratic Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois, said:
“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.”
Wisconsin Congressmember Mike Gallagher added, “TikTok is digital fentanyl that’s addicting Americans, collecting troves of their data, and censoring their news.” A Senate version of the bill was announced by Florida Republican Marco Rubio.
Via The Verge:
Today’s bill follows a series of state-level orders prohibiting TikTok on government devices. Utah and Texas banned the app from government-issued devices earlier this week on the heels of similar orders in South Dakota and Maryland. TikTok has been a sticking point for Republican politicians since the Trump administration — which tried and largely abandoned a full-scale nationwide ban, succeeding mainly in funneling money to Oracle through a data auditing deal.
Trump’s plans for a ban, which also invoked the IEEPA, were nebulous and controversial. They highlighted the expansive scope of presidential emergency powers but also drew heavy scrutiny from courts. The Biden administration then revoked Trump’s decision in 2021, replacing it with an order to examine TikTok for potential national security threats.
Beyond the security concerns, experts have also raised concerns about the spread of misinformation, privacy loss for minors, and the shortening of attention spans due to context collapse. Critics of the proposed ban say such laws could lead to a sort of digital nationalism at a time when countries need to work more closely on global challenges. Some also argue that it’s an attempt to reduce the influence of young people and marginalized voices in political discourse.
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