Legislation that would ban TikTok in the U.S. was unveiled this week. It comes as links between TikTok’s owners and the Chinese Government have raised national security concerns.
The legislation is still in its very early stages, and it’s unclear if it will receive enough support to become a law.
The legislation would “block and prohibit” the activity of social media companies operating in the U.S. with over one million monthly users from a “country of concern”, including China, Iran, and North Korea.
TikTok and its owner, Chinese company ByteDance, have been specified as companies that would be blocked if the legislation passes.
The bill was launched by two Republican members and one Democratic member of Congress. Legislation was prepared for both the Senate and House of Representatives.
There have been long-held concerns in the U.S. that through TikTok, data and intelligence were being shared with the Chinese Government, which was seen as a national security risk.
In 2020, then-President Donald Trump announced his intention to ban TikTok due to its risk to national security (which never eventuated).
There is an ongoing review of TikTok’s risk to U.S. national security.
Why was it tabled?
Republican Senator Marco Rubio said the bill would stop TikTok from collecting data from “tens of millions” of Americans every day.
Democrat House member Raja Krishnamoorthi said the legislation would block foreign powers from controlling “social media networks that could be easily weaponised against us”.
A TikTok spokesperson said it was “troubling” that the legislation was tabled while a security review was underway, and called it a “politically-motivated ban that will do nothing to advance the national security of the United States”.
The spokesperson said that plans with U.S. officials to sustain TikTok’s presence in the U.S. are “well underway”.