Sen. Marco Rubio moves to ban TikTok in the US with bipartisan bill

Bill bans social media platforms influenced by ‘countries of concern’

FILE - The TikTok logo is seen on a cell phone on Oct. 14, 2022, in Boston. Maryland is banning the use of TikTok and certain China and Russia-based platforms in the states executive branch of government, Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday, Dec. 6, the latest state to address cybersecurity risks presented by the platforms. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File) (Michael Dwyer, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

ORLANDO, Fla. – A bill unveiled by Sen. Marco Rubio Tuesday targets Tiktok as it moves to restrict social media companies with ties to China and other foreign countries of concern.

The Averting the National Threat of Internet Surveillance, Oppressive Censorship and Influence, and Algorithmic Learning by the Chinese Communist Party Act (ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act) was specifically made with Tiktok in mind. It names the social media platform and its parent company Bytedance by name.

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It bans transactions by social media companies that might be:

  • Headquartered in a country of concern
  • Is either directly or indirectly owned by a country of concern
  • Employs software or algorithms controlled by a country of concern
  • Or where a country of concern has substantial influence

Rubio, the senior Republican senator from Florida, has long warned against Tiktok because of concerns that the Chinese government could collect data from Tiktok users.

“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,” Rubio said.

The U.S. government has been in negotiations with Bytedance to resolve security concerns, but those negotiations have been going on for years.

Last week, FBI Director Chris Wray said the agency was concerned about China’s ability to control Tiktok’s recommendation algorithm, “which allows them to manipulate content, and if they want to, to use it for influence operations,” as well as the ability to collect data for espionage operations.

“All of these things are in the hands of a government that doesn’t share our values, and that has a mission that’s very much at odds with what’s in the best interests of the United States. That should concern us,” Wray told an audience at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

Rubio and his co-sponsors in the U.S. House, representatives Mike Gallagher, R-Wisconsin, and Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ilinois, say the time to negotiate is over.

“TikTok is digital fentanyl that’s addicting Americans, collecting troves of their data, and censoring their news,” said Gallagher.

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About the Author:

Christie joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021.