Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) called on all Americans to delete the popular video-sharing app TikTok from their devices because of its parent company’s connections to the Chinese government.
Appearing on CNN’s “State of The Union” with host Jake Tapper, Gallagher expressed concerns over personal information and data that could be shared with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). 100 million Americans use the app, including about two-thirds of teenagers. When Tapper asked Gallagher whether they should delete the app, Gallagher replied, “they should.”
“TikTok is owned by ByteDance and ByteDance is effectively controlled by the Chinese Communist Party,” Gallagher said. “The editor-in-chief of ByteDance, for example, is a CCP secretary and has talked about making sure all product lines, all business lines follow appropriate political control,” he added.
“Should they delete that app?”
— CNN (@CNN) December 18, 2022
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced legislation last week called “Averting the National Threat of Internet Surveillance, Oppressive Censorship and Influence, and Algorithmic Learning by the Chinese Communist Party Act (ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act).” It would ban TikTok in America. Gallagher and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) unveiled the same bill in the House.
“The question we have to ask is whether we want to give the CCP the ability to track our location, track what websites we visit even when we’re not using the TikTok app itself, and increasingly, since a large percentage of young Americans use TikTok to get their news, whether we want them to have the ability to selectively edit that news,” Gallagher told Tapper.
“It’s as if in 1958, given that TikTok is on the cusp of becoming the most powerful media company in America, we would have allowed the KGB and Pravda to buy the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post all combined,” he continued.
Nearly two dozen of ByteDance’s directors previously worked for Chinese state media outlets, and 15 employees currently do, according to LinkedIn profiles reviewed by Forbes.
In a Washington Post op-ed last month, Gallagher and Rubio warned that while TikTok promotes content with hopes of going viral, it could also be used to “subtly indoctrinate American citizens.” Then, in an interview last week on Fox News, Gallagher took issue with Americans getting their news from the app, saying the Chinese government “can propagandize young Americans.”
The Senate unanimously passed Sen. Josh Hawley’s (R-MO) No TikTok On Government Devices legislation last week. In addition, many state governments have banned the app on government-issued devices, including Iowa, North Dakota, Alabama, Nebraska, South Dakota, South Carolina, Maryland, Texas, Utah, and Oklahoma.
FBI Director Christopher Wray told Homeland Security Committee House members last month that TikTok poses national security threats from the CCP.
“They include the possibility that the Chinese government could use it to control data collection on millions of users. Or control the recommendation algorithm, which could be used for influence operations if they so chose. Or to control software on millions of devices, which gives it opportunity to potentially technically compromise personal devices,” he said.
Former President Donald Trump signed an executive order before leaving office that banned TikTok in the U.S. The order was never implemented following legal hurdles, and Biden revoked it in June 2021, replacing it with his own directive to protect the data of Americans from foreign adversaries.