Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has introduced a bill that would ban the popular social media app TikTok in the United States.
The move came amid concerns that TikTok’s parent company, the Chinese-owned ByteDance, is accessing the data of app users and giving the information to the Chinese Communist Party.
Rubio’s bill, if passed, would block all transactions from any social media company that resides or is controlled by a “country of concern,” such as China or Russia.
“The federal government has yet to take a single meaningful action to protect American users from the threat of TikTok,” the senator said in a news release on Tuesday.
“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,” he said. “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. It is time to ban Beijing-controlled TikTok for good.”
Companion legislation was introduced in the House by Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin and Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois.
“TikTok is digital fentanyl that’s addicting Americans, collecting troves of their data, and censoring their news,” Gallagher said in a statement.
“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 said.
Rubio’s legislation — dubbed the ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act, an acronym for “Averting the National Threat of Internet Surveillance, Oppressive Censorship and Influence, and Algorithmic Learning by the Chinese Communist Party” — explicitly singles out TikTok and its parent company.
TikTok spokeswoman Brooke Oberwetter responded to the bill by claiming it is “politically motivated.”
“TikTok is loved by millions of Americans who use the platform to learn, grow their businesses, and connect with creative content that brings them joy,” Oberwetter said in a statement, according to USA Today.
“We will continue to brief members of Congress on the plans that have been developed under the oversight of our country’s top national security agencies – plans that we are well underway in implementing – to further secure our platform in the United States,” she said.
According to CNBC, ByteDance has tried to reassure lawmakers that while the company is Chinese-owned, the data it gathers from users is stored outside of China and out of the reach of the CCP.
Last month, however, FBI Director Christopher Wray told a House panel that the bureau has “national security concerns” about the platform’s U.S. operations.
“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 chose, or to control software on millions of devices, which gives it an opportunity to potentially technically compromise personal devices,” Wray said during a hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee.
The app was previously in the crosshairs of the Trump administration but survived attempts to ban it at the time.
Certain states have taken action themselves, with Republican governors in Maryland and South Dakota banning the app from state government electronic devices.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.