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New proposals to ban TikTok in the US introduced in Congress

By | Published on Thursday 15 December 2022


New proposals have been introduced in the US Congress that would basically ban TikTok from being used within the country. Or, more specifically, the proposed new laws would “protect Americans by blocking and prohibiting all transactions from TikTok and any other social media company in, or under the influence of, China, Russia and several other foreign countries of concern”.

It’s no secret that there are concerns in the US political community about TikTok and its ownership by China-based Bytedance. Those concerns usually centre on claims that the Chinese government can access user data on the TikTok platform and has influence over content filtering – claims TikTok itself strongly denies.

When he was still US President, Donald Trump tried to ban the use of TikTok within America via an executive order, but that ban never went into effect because of various legal channels in the courts. Joe Biden then revoked the order once he was in charge.

Nevertheless, concerns about TikTok continue to be expressed by American politicians, including by some on Biden’s side of the political divide, and talks have continued between Bytedance and the US government, with the former seeking to allay the concerns of the latter.

Meanwhile, there have been various moves to stop officials in the US from using TikTok on government-owned devices at both a state and federal level.

The proposed new laws that would block any transactions with TikTok – and other Chinese or Russian owned social media services – have been brought to Congress by Republican Marco Rubio in the Senate, and Republican Mike Gallagher and Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi in the House Of Representatives.

Somewhat ironically – given that they target a short-form content app – those proposals are contained in a piece of legislation with the ridiculously long title of the Averting The National Threat Of Internet Surveillance, Oppressive Censorship And Influence, And Algorithmic Learning By The Chinese Communist Party Act. Because that makes it the ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act, see. No, really.

Says Rubio: “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”.

Responding to the proposals, TikTok spokesperson Hilary McQuaide noted the ongoing conversations between Bytedance and Biden’s government. “It’s troubling that rather than encouraging the [Biden] administration to conclude its national security review of TikTok”, she said, “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”.

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”, she added. “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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