A trio of U.S. lawmakers introduced legislation on Tuesday that, if approved, would ban all financial transactions from the popular social media app TikTok.
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio announced the bipartisan legislation to demonetize TikTok, as fears surrounding the app suggest it is being used to spy on Americans and censor content.
The legislation is titled the Averting the National Threat of Internet Surveillance, Oppressive Censorship and Influence, and Algorithmic Learning by the Chinese Communist Party Act, or ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act.
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Rubio’s office said in a press release the legislation would block all transactions from social media companies in or under the influence of Russia and China.
TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance LTD, is required under Chinese law to share its data with the Chinese Communist Party whenever requested.
A companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives is sponsored by Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin and Democrat Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois.
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While several states including Maryland, Texas and South Dakota have taken measures to ban TikTok’s use within state agencies, nothing has been done at the federal level.
“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. “We know it’s used to manipulate feeds and influence elections. We know it answers to the People’s Republic of China.”
He added that it was time for the U.S. to stop wasting time on “meaningless negotiations with a CCP-puppet company.”
Gallagher also weighed in on the proposed ban, suggesting that allowing TikTok to continue operations in the U.S. is like allowing the “U.S.S.R.” to buy major publications and media companies during the Cold War.
“TikTok is digital fentanyl that’s addicting Americans, collecting troves of their data, and censoring their news,” he said in the press release. “No country with even a passing interest in its own security would allow this to happen, which is why it’s time to ban TikTok and any other CCP-controlled app before it’s too late.”
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TikTok expressed concerns about the efforts being made by federal legislators on Tuesday.
“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 spokesperson for TikTok said. “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. 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.”
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