Two years after former President Donald Trump called for a ban on TikTok, Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio this week introduced legislation that would impose a national ban on the Chinese-owned social media platform that has become immensely popular with young Americans.
“I want to ban TikTok for a very simple reason,” Rubio said in a short video posted on social media on Wednesday. “They allow – the Chinese Communist Party – to gain access to all of the private data on any device in America that’s using TikTok. That’s our kids. That’s phones connected to our kids’ phones, and that’s a national security threat but it’s a direct threat to our way of life, our economics. It’s allowed them to interfere in midterm elections. This company should be banned. I don’t know why they’re allowed to operate in the United States.”
Rubio’s bill goes beyond targeting China, however.
The proposal calls for blocking and prohibiting all transactions from any social media company in, or under the influence of China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela. It has bipartisan support, as it’s being sponsored by U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi in Illinois.
FBI Director Christopher Wray told a congressional committee last month that he is “extremely concerned” about TikTok’s operations in the U.S.
“We do have national security concerns at least from the FBI’s end about TikTok,” Wray told members of the House Homeland Security Committee, according to CNBC. “They include the possibility that the Chinese government could use it to control data collection on millions of users. Or control the recommendation algorithm, which could be used for influence operations if they so choose. Or to control software on millions of devices, which gives it opportunity to potentially technically compromise personal devices.”
Brendan Carr, one of five members of the Federal Communications Commission, has also been calling for a national ban on TikTok. In June, he asked Google and Apple to remove TikTock from their app stores, citing similar concerns expressed by Rubio.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved legislation that would ban the use of TikTok on government related phones and devices. The House would need to approve that legislation as well.