Rubio, House Reps. introduce bipartisan bill seeking to ban TikTok – Spectrum News NY1

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Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and House Reps. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., and Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., have introduced a bipartisan bill seeking to ban hyper-popular short-form video app TikTok over national security concerns.
TikTok, and its parent company, Chinese-baed ByteDance, are both named in the bill which seeks to “protect Americans from the threat posed by certain foreign adversaries” that lawmakers argue may be surveilling users.
“This isn’t about creative videos — this is about an app that is collecting data on tens of millions of American children and adults every day,” Rubio said in a statement released Tuesday. “We know it’s used to manipulate feeds and influence elections. We know it answers to the People’s Republic of China. There is no more time to waste on meaningless negotiations with a CCP-puppet company.”
The bill is known as the “Averting the National Threat of Internet Surveillance, Oppressive Censorship and Influence, and Algorithmic Learning by the Chinese Communist Party Act,” or the “ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act.” 
Rep. Gallagher, one of the two House lawmakers who introduced the bill, called the app "digital fentanyl" – a reference to the ongoing opioid crisis – which he charged is "addicting Americans, collecting troves of their data, and censoring their news."
"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," Gallagher said in the joint statement. "Allowing the app to continue to operate in the U.S. would be like allowing the U.S.S.R. to buy up the New York Times, Washington Post, and major broadcast networks during the Cold War."
"At a time when the Chinese Communist Party and our other adversaries abroad are seeking any advantage they can find against the United States through espionage and mass surveillance, it is imperative that we do not allow hostile powers to potentially control social media networks that could be easily weaponized against us," Krishnamoorthi added.
The bill would force President Joe Biden to use powers granted by the International Emergency Economic Powers Act to “block and prohibit all transactions in property and interests in property” of social media companies that are subject to or headquartered in “a country of concern” — before explicitly naming ByteDance and TikTok. Violations of the IEEP Act can be punished with up to 20 years in prison as well as up to $1 million in fines.
A representative for TikTok blasted the legislation in a statement to USA Today, calling it "politically motivated."
"TikTok is loved by millions of Americans who use the platform to learn, grow their businesses, and connect with creative content that brings them joy," the spokesperson told the outlet. "We will continue to brief members of Congress on the plans that have been developed under the oversight of our country’s top national security agencies – plans that we are well underway in implementing – to further secure our platform in the United States."
Last month, FBI director Christopher Wray told the House Homeland Security Committee that the Chinese government could use the app 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 an opportunity to potentially technically compromise personal devices.”
Federal agencies across the board began banning the application from government-owned devices in 2020; in Dec. 2019, the Pentagon warned that military personnel should delete the app from all devices. Soon after, branches of the military began banning the app on military-owned devices.
Earlier this year, Federal Communications Commission member Brendan Carr told members of the House Oversight Committee that personal TikTok use among troops and family members could be a threat to national security.
“With TikTok, this is a device right in your pocket. It’s ogin inside the military installation, looking at location datat, which can give people information on troop movements,” Carr said, adding that data could then be collected by Chinese intelligence agencies. “At its core, TikTok functions as a sophisticated surveillance tool that harvest extensive amounts of sensitive data from search and browsing history, keystroke patterns, location data, and biometrics including face prints and voice prints.”
In a letter sent last month to TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, members of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform wrote that the company “shared potentially false or misleading information” with staff.
“During the briefing, TikTok told staff that: (1) TikTok does not track users’ internet data while not using the application; and (2) that China-based employees do not have access to U.S. users’ location specific data. Both claims appear to be misleading at best, and at worst, false,” said a letter signed by Reps. James Comer, R-Ky., and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash.
Just this month, Republican lawmakers — particularly at the state level — have taken up former President Donald Trump’s threats to ban TikTok. Governors in Texas, South Carolina and Maryland have imposed bans on TikTok on government-owned devices (Maryland included a ban on Russian-based products), while Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita filed a pair of lawsuits against TikTok.


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