Donald Trump Jr. pushed Congress to ban Chinese-controlled TikTok from the U.S. and take to it one step further by passing new “hardcore” laws that would prohibit all social media companies from allowing the private data of U.S. citizens to fall into the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.
Trump Jr.’s remarks come after a bipartisan group of senators introduced the Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology (RESTRICT) Act this week that would allow the U.S. to ban TikTok and take action against other foreign adversaries. The legislation empowers the Department of Commerce to review, prevent, and mitigate information communications and technology (ICT) transactions that pose undue risk to U.S. economic and national security.
“We’ve got to figure this TikTok thing out,” Trump Jr. said in an exclusive statement to The Daily Wire. “But I got to thinking, well hold on just a second, a lot of these social media companies have China issues and if we’re going to do something here, it needs to apply to all of them.”
Trump Jr.’s statement to The Daily Wire comes after he publicly called on Congress to take action to prevent all social media companies from allowing U.S. user data from going to China.
“While we’re going hardcore on TikTok regulations, how about NO American data flowing through China for ANY social media company?!” Trump Jr. tweeted. “No letting Facebook, IG, Twitter or anyone else off the hook for data security and privacy in whatever ends up happening.”
While we’re going hardcore on TikTok regulations, how about NO American data flowing through China for ANY social media company?! No letting Facebook, IG, Twitter or anyone else off the hook for data security and privacy in whatever ends up happening. pic.twitter.com/Tppke4NrhO
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) March 7, 2023
Two former Trump administration officials — Matt Pottinger, deputy national security adviser; and David Feith, deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs — wrote a piece in The New York Times toward the end of 2021 explaining that Chinese communist dictator Xi Jinping is trying to make the Chinese Communist Party “the world’s most powerful data broker.”
They explained that Beijing is acting in a hyper-aggressive manner to accomplish this goal by “exerting new extraterritorial power over global data flows and putting foreign companies operating in China in a legal bind — all while absorbing other countries’ data by means licit and illicit.”
Facebook revealed in 2018 that it had “data-sharing partnerships with at least four Chinese electronics companies” that dated back to 2010. The New York Times reported that Facebook gave “private access to some user data” to Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, which is now banned in the U.S. because of the serious threat that officials say it poses to U.S. national security. The report said that the data that China collected from Facebook included information on users’ “religious and political leanings, work and education history and relationship status.”
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When U.S. social media companies like Facebook are not turning over users’ data to China, China is using its sophisticated internal internet-data surveillance network to mine social media platforms “to equip its government agencies, military and police with information on foreign targets,” The Washington Post reported.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) and Ranking Member Marco Rubio (R-FL) sent a letter last month to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg (Meta is the parent company of Facebook) demanding answers to numerous questions about the four data-sharing partnerships that it had with Chinese entities.
The senators said that it appears that the company has known for the last several years that 90,000 developers in China had access to significant amounts of sensitive user data. The senators alleged that China also got “user IDs, photos, as well as contact information and even private messages.”
Internal company documents found that Facebook acknowledged that the hostile foreign nations that obtained access to private U.S. user data included state actors “known to collect data for intelligence targeting and cyber espionage,” according to the senators.
Former President Donald Trump took executive action toward the end of his time in office to ban TikTok from the U.S. but the effort was abandoned by President Joe Biden shortly after Biden came into power.