Lawmakers Urge ESPN To Drop TikTok Sponsorships Over National Security Concerns

Two members of the House of Representatives are urging ESPN to drop TikTok after the social media platform sponsored halftime shows during recent college football bowl games broadcast on the sports television network.

Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) sent a letter to ESPN CEO James Pitaro on Monday.

“The U.S. government considers TikTok a national security threat because it is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, which is subject to the direction of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP),” the House members wrote.

“We are concerned that despite these widely known issues with the app, ESPN has allowed TikTok to sponsor NCAA bowl game halftime shows,” they added.

The letter requested answers about what vetting procedures ESPN uses when reviewing potential corporate sponsors of its programming.

Gallagher and Krishnamoorthi asked if ESPN was “aware that TikTok is, through ByteDance, effectively controlled by the CCP and that the U.S. government has determined that it is a national security threat?”

The lawmakers concluded by challenging ESPN to commit to ending its commercial relationship with TikTok, ByteDance, and other Chinese companies determined by the U.S. government to pose national security threats.

TikTok is one of the most popular social media apps in the U.S., with more than 100 million users. The national security concerns, however, have led to a growing number of restrictions and bans from lawmakers.

At least 15 states have banned the download and use of TikTok on state-issued devices over data privacy and national security concerns. Both New Jersey and Ohio joined the growing movement over the past week, showing that the anxiety is held by states led by Republican and Democratic governors.

Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine said in his executive order, “these surreptitious data privacy and cybersecurity practices pose national and local security and cybersecurity threats to users of these applications and platforms and the devices storing the applications and platforms.”

In addition, the app was banned on devices issued by the federal government as part of the $1.7 trillion spending passed in December. The “No TikTok on Government Devices Act” was introduced by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) in the Senate.

“TikTok is a Trojan Horse for the Chinese Communist Party. It’s a major security risk to the United States, and until it is forced to sever ties with China completely, it has no place on government devices,” Hawley said in a statement in December. “States across the U.S. are banning TikTok on government devices. It’s time for Joe Biden and the Democrats to help do the same.”

The Daily Wire reported that Seattle Public School District officials filed a lawsuit on Friday against social media platform owners, including TikTok, for fueling a youth mental health crisis.

The lawsuit argued that students experiencing mental health issues perform worse in school and are less likely to attend class, which “directly affects Seattle Public School’s ability to fulfill its educational mission.”

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