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Three American legislators, led by Florida Senator Marco Rubio, have put forward a new bill that seeks to prohibit TikTok from functioning in the United States.
The proposal, authored by Rubio along with congressmen Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), is just the latest American policy move against the Chinese-owned video-sharing app, which has long been subject to skepticism regarding its ability to protect users’ personal data from the Chinese government.
The bill, hosted on Sen. Rubio’s website, states that it is intended to “protect Americans from the threat posed by certain foreign adversaries using current or potential future social media companies that those foreign adversaries control to surveil Americans, learn sensitive data about Americans, or spread influence campaigns, propaganda, and censorship.”
Rubio’s bill follows legislation in Republican-led states like Maryland and Utah to stop using TikTok on state-owned devices. Previously, former President Donald Trump proposed a ban on TikTok in 2020, citing national security concerns. Among other things, he claimed that the Chinese-owned app could be used by the Chinese government for nefarious purposes, and issued an executive order directing the Commerce Department to develop a plan to ban it. Trump’s ban didn’t go through, however, and the issue was resolved through a deal in which parent company ByteDance agreed to divest its U.S. operations to a American company.
Senator Rubio said the following in a statement on his website:
The federal government has yet to take a single meaningful action to protect American users from the threat of TikTok. 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. 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. It is time to ban Beijing-controlled TikTok for good.
In its report on the bill, CNN quoted TikTok spokesperson Hilary McQuade, who said in a statement that “It’s troubling that … 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.”
As CNN notes, the State Department, military, and Department of Homeland Security don’t allow TikTok on their devices.
TikTok insists it doesn’t share user data with the Chinese government, claiming a team of American employees are in charge of any Chinese access to US user data.