U.S. Senator Republican Marco Rubio gives a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, February 25, 2022.
Octavio Jones | Reuters
A new bill from a bipartisan group of lawmakers, if passed, would ban TikTok in the U.S. after years of broad concern across the Trump and Biden administrations about potential Chinese government influence on the company.
TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, has raised fears in the U.S. that Chinese government officials could gain access to U.S. user data under Chinese law that could compel the company to hand over information. TikTok has insisted U.S. user data is safely stored outside of China, which it says should keep it out of reach of government officials.
But the company’s reassurances have done little to turn down the heat on TikTok. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. is in talks with the company about how to resolve some of the data concerns, though a solution has reportedly been delayed. FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before Congress recently that he’s “extremely concerned” about the Chinese government’s potential influence through TikTok on U.S. users.
The new bill, introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Reps. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisc., and Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., would ban “all transactions from any social media company in, or under the influence of, China, Russia, and several other foreign countries of concern,” according to a press release.
The ANTI-SOCIAL CCP ACT — which stands for Averting the National Threat of Internet Surveillance, Oppressive Censorship and Influence, and Algorithmic Learning by the Chinese Communist Party — explicitly names ByteDance and TikTok as subject to the restrictions in the bill, “unless and until the date on which the President certifies to Congress that the company no longer meets any of the conditions described,” such as being subject to “substantial influence” by a country of concern.
“It is troubling that rather than encouraging the Administration to conclude its national security review of TikTok, some members of Congress have decided to push for a politically-motivated ban that will do nothing to advance the national security of the United States,” a TikTok spokesperson said. “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.”