Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) have introduced legislation aimed at banning social media company TikTok from operating in the United States.
The proposed bill — dubbed the Averting the National Threat of Internet Surveillance, Oppressive Censorship and Influence, and Algorithmic Learning by the Chinese Communist Party Act, or the “ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act” — would prohibit “all transactions from any social media company in, or under the influence of, China, Russia, and several other foreign countries of concern.”
The bill’s introduction was prompted by concern that TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, could be used to conduct surveillance by gathering American user data. The Republican bill introduced Tuesday is not the first instance of lawmakers attempting to restrict the app’s use.
In Aug. 2020, former President Donald Trump signed an executive order intended to ban American companies from engaging in business with ByteDance. Following a protracted legal battle between the Trump administration and ByteDance, the order was ultimately overturned by President Joe Biden.
Last week, Texas Governor Greg Abbott banned employees of the state’s government from using TikTok on their work phones. “TikTok harvests vast amounts of data from its users’ devices — including when, where, and how they conduct Internet activity — and offers this trove of potentially sensitive information to the Chinese government,” Abbott wrote in a letter announcing the decision. Multiple other states, including Alabama, Utah, Maryland, and South Dakota, have issued similar prohibitions on state devices.
TikTok boasts more than 80 million users in the United States. The app has worked to assuage concerns presented by lawmakers, negotiating a deal with Oracle in March of this year to take over the app’s domestic storage of user data. In June, the company stated that it was in the process of migrating user data to Oracle’s servers. “For more than a year, we’ve been working with Oracle on several measures as part of our commercial relationship to better safeguard our app, systems, and the security of US user data,” TikTok stated in a blog post announcing the migration. “We’re dedicated to earning and maintaining the trust of our community and will continue to work every day to protect our platform and provide a safe, welcoming, and enjoyable experience for our community.”