Lawmakers introduce a bill that could ban TikTok in the US

Privacy concerns motivate US lawmakers to create a bill that protects US data from being shared with foreign adversaries.
Written by Sabrina Ortiz, Editor
TikTok logo on a phone in front of a background that reads ByteDance
Image: Getty Images/SOPA Images

Three US lawmakers have introduced bipartisan legislation that would ban TikTok's availability in the US. The policy is meant to protect American data from the possession of foreign adversaries, specifically targeting TikTok's Chinese parent company ByteDance.

Potential Chinese government influence over the TikTok app has raised privacy concerns among both the public and lawmakers, who have even escalated lawsuits against the short-from video app.

The risk of TikTok spying on Americans is high, according to a press release from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), because ByteDance is required by Chinese law to make the app's data available to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). 

The ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act (Averting the National Threat of Internet Surveillance, Oppressive Censorship and Influence, and Algorithmic Learning by the Chinese Communist Party Act), introduced by Rubio and Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-Wisc.), and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), would prohibit all social media companies that pose a security threat to the US from conducting operations within the US.  

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According to the bill, its purpose is: "To protect Americans from the threat posed by certain foreign adversaries using current or potential future social media companies that those foreign adversaries control to surveil Americans, learn sensitive data about Americans, or spread influence campaigns, propaganda, and censorship."

The social companies affected by the bill are those headquartered, controlled by, or influenced by a country or entity of concern. The countries delineated as countries of concern include the People's Republic of China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela. 

Under a "deemed companies" portion of the document, the bill specifically names ByteDance, TikTok and any subsidiaries of the company and calls for them to be blocked and prohibited from all transactions in the US.  

"TikTok is digital fentanyl that's addicting Americans, collecting troves of their data, and censoring their news," Gallagher said in the press release. "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". 

TikTok did not immediately respond to ZDNET's request to comment. However, a TikTok spokesperson told CNBC: "It is troubling that rather than encouraging the Administration to conclude its national security review of TikTok, some members of Congress have decided to push for a politically-motivated ban that will do nothing to advance the national security of the United States."

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