Bipartisan Legislation Seeks to Ban ‘CCP Puppet Company’ TikTok From US

Andrew Thornebrooke
By Andrew Thornebrooke
December 13, 2022China News
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A bipartisan group of lawmakers is seeking to ban social media giant TikTok from operating in the United States. The effort follows extensive testimony from U.S. intelligence leaders that the app poses a threat to national security.

Legislation seeking to ban the app was introduced into both houses of Congress on Dec. 13 by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.).

The lawmakers condemned TikTok’s ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) through its parent company ByteDance, and said that the company was collecting Americans’ data for the communist regime.

“The federal government has yet to take a single meaningful action to protect American users from the threat of TikTok,” Rubio said. “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. 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.”

TikTok a ‘Weaponized’ Application

TikTok has long been the subject of Congressional scrutiny due to its ties to the CCP and practice of sending user data to ByteDance employees located in China.

CCP laws classify data as a national resource and mandate that companies located in China or majority-owned by Chinese entities must hand over all data to the regime upon request, including proprietary source code and other intellectual property.

Security experts have described TikTok as a “weaponized” application for this reason, and said that the app siphons an immense amount of data from Americans that could be sent to the CCP. Such data includes not only browsing history, but also facial recognition information, keystroke input, passwords, bank information, and even whatever users have copied to their virtual clipboard.

Likewise, FBI Director Christopher Wray has repeatedly said that is a national security threat to the United States and that, among other concerns, ByteDance’s control of the app’s algorithm made it vulnerable to CCP manipulation.

The Chinese regime “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 opportunity to potentially technically compromise personal devices,” Wray said during a Nov. 15 hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee.

Such fears are not without warrant.

TikTok executives previously admitted to censoring information on the app, suppressing videos that were critical of the CCP or which discussed the regime’s atrocities in Xinjiang and Tiananmen Square.

When asked for a reason, executives have typically responded by saying that the platform is not intended for political content. That answer is problematic, however, given that the company failed to act on 90 percent of its ads containing election misinformation that targeted the U.S. 2022 midterms, including content spreading outright lies about the voting process in America.

The ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act

The three lawmakers framed their legislation as a much-needed attempt to fend off an increasingly hostile communist regime. The CCP is an adversary, Gallagher said, and can not be permitted to exploit American markets against American citizens.

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

“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. 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.”

The legislation, titled 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), would block and prohibit all transactions from any social media company in, or under the influence of, China, Russia, and several other foreign countries of concern.

TikTok derided the decision, and suggested that Congress should wait for a full national security review to be completed. That review has been ongoing since 2019, when the Trump administration said that the company should be forced to sell to a U.S.-based parent entity.

“It is troubling that rather than encouraging the Administration to conclude its national security review of TikTok, some members of Congress have decided to push for a politically-motivated ban that will do nothing to advance the national security of the United States,” a TikTok spokesperson told The Epoch Times in an email.

“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. 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.”

Proponents of the bill, however, said that it was a vital step to protecting the public from malign foreign influence and surveillance.

“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,” Krishnamoorthi said.

“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. 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.”

From The Epoch Times

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