A new piece of legislation has been proposed in the United States that, if passed, would make it illegal for the app TikTok to be used within the country.
The latest move by US politicians to take action against a short-form video app that is controlled by China is reflected in a new measure introduced by Senator Marco Rubio, the ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, and a pair of congressmen from different political parties in the House. Concerns have been raised regarding TikTok’s ability to keep the Chinese government from accessing the personal information of its users in the United States.
The proposed legislation would “block and prohibit all transactions” in the United States by social media companies that have at least one million monthly users and are based in or under the “substantial influence” of countries that are considered to be foreign adversaries. These countries include China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela. The legislation would take effect on January 1, 2019.
TikTok and ByteDance, the company that owns TikTok, are both called out by name as being considered social media companies within the context of the proposed legislation. In an editorial published in the Washington Post one month ago, both Marco Rubio and Mike Gallagher, a Republican representative from Wisconsin and one of the measure’s sponsors in the House, expressed their plan to introduce the bill.
The measure is a response to a recent trend in which a number of states, led by Republican governors, have enacted restrictions at the state level regarding the use of TikTok on devices controlled by the government. Over the course of the previous two weeks, at least seven states, including Maryland, South Dakota, and Utah, have introduced legislation along these lines.
Contrast this flurry of activity with the protracted negotiations that TikTok has been having with the United States government for years on a potential deal that may allow the company to address national security concerns and continue serving US users. The negotiations have been going on for years.
According to a statement released by Senator Marco Rubio, “The federal government has yet to take a single substantial action to protect American users from the menace of TikTok.” “There is no more time to waste on pointless negotiations with a firm controlled by the CCP. It is time to put an end to the use of the Beijing-controlled app TikTok.
It is 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, said Hilary McQuaide, a spokesperson for TikTok, in a statement. “Rather than encouraging the Administration to conclude its national security review of TikTok,” she said, “it is troubling that some members of Congress have decided to push for a ban.”
McQuaide 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.” “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.”
TikTok has stated in the past that it does not provide information to the Chinese government and that a security team based in the United States determines who can access user data from the United States while in China. Additionally, TikTok has admitted in the past that personnel based in China now have access to user data.
The bill that was introduced on Tuesday is not the only piece of government legislation that targets TikTok. The previous year, legislators in the United States of America suggested a law that would prohibit the use of TikTok by federal agencies. Additionally, Senator Marco Rubio submitted a bill that would require some app producers to divulge ownership information. Another piece of legislation proposed this autumn would make it illegal for TikTok to give personnel headquartered in China access to the user data of people residing in the United States.
Already, the United States military, the State Department, and the Department of Homeland Security have implemented restrictions that prevent users of devices under their control from accessing the TikTok app.
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