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Tipsheet

It's Official: Congress Introduces Bill to Ban TikTok

AP Photo

Lawmakers in both chambers of Congress introduced their legislation to ban social media video app TikTok in the United States, led by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) in the upper chamber and Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) in the House of Representatives. 

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A copy of the bill posted to Sen. Rubio's website explains that the legislation aims to "protect Americans from the threat posed by certain foreign adversaries using current or potential future social media companies that those foreign adversaries control to surveil Americans, learn sensitive data about Americans, or spread influence campaigns, propaganda, and censorship."

Despite the fact that former President Donald Trump was attacked by Democrats, leftist organizations such as the ACLU, and the mainstream media for his attempts to ban TikTok due to the national security threat it posed, the latest effort to torpedo the CCP-linked company's activity in the United States is bipartisan.

Called the "Averting the National Threat of Internet Surveillance, Oppressive Censorship and Influence, and Algorithmic Learning by the Chinese Communist Party Act" — shortened to "ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act" — would "block and prohibit all transactions in all property and interests" of companies that meet one or more conditions outlined in the legislation.

Those conditions, as outlined in the bill, are:

  • The company is domiciled in, headquartered in, has its principal place of business in, or is organized under the laws of a country of concern.
  • A country of concern, entity of con4 cern, or some combination thereof, directly or indirectly owns, controls with the ability to decide important matters, or holds with power to vote, ten percent or more of the outstanding voting stock or shares of the company.
  • The company employs software or algorithms controlled or whose export is restricted by a country of concern or entity of concern
  • The company is subject to substantial influence, directly or indirectly, from a country of concern or entity of concern owing to which—
    • (i) the company shares or could be compelled to share data on United States citizens with a country of concern or entity of concern; or
    • (ii) the content moderation practices of the company are subject to substantial influence from a country of concern or entity of concern.
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The bill also explicitly names TikTok and its parent company ByteDance — as it currently operates tied to the Chinese Communist Party — as such a company that would be blocked from operating or doing business in the United States. Other "countries of concern" in addition to China as designated by those nations that constitute foreign adversaries to the United States include Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela.

“At a time when the Chinese Communist Party and our other adversaries abroad are seeking any advantage they can find against the United States through espionage and mass surveillance, it is imperative that we do not allow hostile powers to potentially control social media networks that could be easily weaponized against us," explained Democrat Rep. Krishnamoorthi. "The bipartisan ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act is a strong step in protecting our nation from the nefarious digital surveillance and influence operations of totalitarian regimes," he said. "Recent revelations surrounding the depth of TikTok’s ties to the CCP highlight the urgency of protecting Americans from these risks before it’s too late," he added.

Senator Rubio criticized the Biden administration for failing "to take a single meaningful action to protect American users from the threat of TikTok. 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," Rubio emphasized. "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," Rubio said of the Biden administration's attempts to allow TikTok to remain operational in the U.S. without changing its corporate structure that ties it to the CCP. "It is time to ban Beijing-controlled TikTok for good."

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"TikTok is digital fentanyl that’s addicting Americans, collecting troves of their data, and censoring their news," Rep. Gallagher added. "It’s also an increasingly powerful media company that’s owned by ByteDance, which ultimately reports to the Chinese Communist Party – America’s foremost adversary," he added. "Allowing the app to continue to operate in the U.S. would be like allowing the U.S.S.R. to buy up the New York Times, Washington Post, and major broadcast networks during the Cold War," Gallagher explained. "No country with even a passing interest in its own security would allow this to happen, which is why it’s time to ban TikTok and any other CCP-controlled app before it’s too late."

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