The House Foreign Affairs Committee is reportedly planning to push a bill in the coming weeks that will give President Joe Biden the authority to ban the use of China’s TikTok in the United States.
The push from Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) comes after he told Bloomberg News last month his concern with the app was that it “gives the Chinese government a back door into our phones.”
Former President Donald Trump tried to block TikTok from being used in the U.S. through a variety of measures that ultimately failed in court and Biden soon quit the effort.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) renewed the push to ban TikTok in December and has recently outlined in media interviews the security concerns that the social media platform presents to the U.S.
“We’re gonna go back to TikTok, people say, you know, ‘Why do we care about what some 16-year-olds are doing?’” Rubio, who is the Ranking Member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said. “I don’t think the threat is that some 16-year-old likes these cool videos that are on there, which I admit are- are attractive, obviously, because the artificial intelligence makes it so. It’s the massive amount of data that they’re collecting, not on one 16-year-old, not on a thousand 16 year-olds, but on millions and millions of Americans that give them commercial advantages, potentially the advantage of being able to shape American public opinion in a time of crisis, that- that just give them an extraordinary insights that allow them to steer the conversation in this country in any direction they want.”
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Even Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) agreed about the threat that TikTok poses to the U.S., saying that at the end of the day the company is “still responsible to the Communist Party.”
“138 million users in America use TikTok on a regular basis, average about 90 minutes a day,” Warner said. “I’m sure your network would love to have 138 million Americans spending 90 minutes a day on your network. And I’m not saying that the TikTok or Communist Party is driving the- the videos you see. But the- the fact is, the algorithms that determine what you see on TikTok, is determined out of Beijing by China. And the proof is, if you look at what Chinese kids are seeing on their version of TikTok, which emphasizes science and engineering, versus what our kids and kids around the world are seeing, it is dramatically different.”