HomeUS News updateMomentum builds in Congress to crack down on TikTok

Momentum builds in Congress to crack down on TikTok

WASHINGTON — There’s no consensus yet, but bipartisan momentum for Congress is getting ready to do something, anything, to crack down on TikTok.

Sens. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., have proposed bills that would ban the Chinese-owned social media giant in the United States.

Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Jerry Moran, R-Kan., demanded in a letter that the Biden administration put up a wall between TikTok’s US operations and its Chinese parent company, ByteDance.

And in a rare one-on-one meeting on Capitol Hill this week, Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., said he urged TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew to “consider the damage his platform has done to a generation of Americans.” “

“TikTok is digital fentanyl,” said Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., the new chairman of the House Select Committee on China.

Late last year, Congress passed and President Joe Biden signed into law a massive spending package that included legislation banning TikTok on millions of federal government equipment.

Now the legislators want to go further. And they are warning that the Chinese Communist Party is using TikTok as an entry point to spy on hundreds of millions of its American users. The company has also come under fire as Congress takes a closer look at the damage caused by social media — especially teenagers who fall for the viral video app.

The discovery of a Chinese spy balloon in US airspace has only increased the warnings. And Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco this week warned Americans not to use TikTok, citing security concerns.

“I think Tiktok is a Chinese spying tool. I think it’s very dangerous,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, the top Republican on the Commerce Committee, said in an interview. “I think it’s used to influence kids and teens in incredibly harmful ways, to push them toward self-destructive behavior, including body image issues, all kinds of lead to eating disorders, which lead to substance abuse, which can lead to teen suicide.

“I believe we need a real investigation, and we need to do more to defend against TikTok,” said Cruz, who said he asked Commerce Chair Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. requested a hearing with Late lunch.

Hawley, who pushed for limited government device restrictions, said there is “further progress” on cracking down on TikTok. In addition to rolling out a bill banning the download of TikTok on any device in the United States, he also introduced legislation this week that bans children under the age of 16 from creating accounts on any social media app. Will do

“This is a company that lies for a living. They have lied to Congress over and over again. They have lied to the American public. And now they are on this last-minute PR tour because they fear they are going to be banned and should be banned,” said Hawley, who serves on the Judiciary and Homeland Security committees. “We should ban them in the United States – that’s the solution to the TikTok problem.”

In a statement to NBC News, TikTok spokeswoman Brooke Oberwetter responded to the criticism: “We hope Congress will find a solution to their concerns about TikTok that will not have the effect of censoring the voice of millions of Americans.”

He said the “fastest and most thorough way” to address national security concerns is for the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CIFIUS, to sign a potential security settlement related to the social media company.

“That plan includes layers of government and independent oversight to ensure that TikTok doesn’t have any backdoors that could be used to access data or manipulate the platform,” Oberwatter said. “These measures go way beyond what any peer company is doing today on security.”

In response to Cruz describing TikTok as a “Chinese spying tool”, Oberwater said: “There is no truth to Sen. Cruz’s outrageous claim that TikTok shares US user data with the Chinese government or the Chinese Communist Party. We community very seriously, and welcomes dialogue with Sen. Cruz and other stakeholders about how our industry can work together for the betterment of teens and families.

Some Democrats are even enthusiastic about a national ban on TikTok. “If it came down to a vote, I would vote for it,” Sen. Ben Rey Lujan, D-N.M., a member of the Commerce Committee, told NBC News.

Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin, the majority whip and No. 2 Democrat, said Congress “must find ways to restrict TikTok’s access to Americans and US agencies … in every constitutional way possible.”

Durbin said he plans to talk to Hawley about his age-restriction proposal and vowed that the Judiciary Committee will soon mark up legislation that addresses the harmful effects of social media.

“So we’re going to pursue it. I want to put a bill in committee for a markup. We have a number of solid foundational bills to work with. I’ll consider [Hawley’s]Certainly, but I think the sentiment shared by both sides of the aisle was very powerful and strong, that social media businesses better get real,” Durbin said.

“We are tired of what they are doing to our children.”

Rubio, vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee, and Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent who caucuses with Democrats, authored another bill targeting TikTok: Internet Surveillance, Oppressive Censorship and Influence, and Algorithmic Learning by the Chinese averting the national threat of the Communist Party Act, or the Antisocial CCP Act.

Specifically, the bill would bar all transactions from TikTok or any other social media company that is based in or under the influence of China, Russia or any other “country of concern”. Reps. Gallagher and Raja Krishnamurthy, D-Ill. Leaders of the new China Select Committee have introduced a companion bill to the House.

Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, a member of the commerce panel, said he is still reviewing some of the proposed TikTok bills and is “concerned” by the company. “But it is difficult to have a law that targets only one company,” he said.

Sen. Jean Shaheen, DN.H., a senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee, has not taken a position on the TikTok ban, but pointed out that her panel held a hearing this week on how the social media app can be used to drive sales. being done. Fentanyl and other drugs to young people.

“We need a comprehensive approach,” she said. “That’s what I’d like to do.”

Amid calls for congressional action, Chew launched a charm offensive in Washington this week, trying to convince prominent lawmakers, think tanks and journalists that the app brings value to its 100 million US users and shouldn’t be considered illegal. Needed

In an interview with The Washington Post, Chew said, “There are over 100 million voices in this country, and I think it would be a real shame if our users around the world could no longer hear them.” “We have to have a tough conversation on who is using it now? What kind of value does it bring to them? What does it mean if we take it out of their hands?

It is not clear whether the CEO of TikTok has changed his mind. After speaking with Chew, Bennett said he is “fundamentally concerned that TikTok, as a Chinese-owned company, is subject to the dictates of the Chinese Communist Party and poses an unacceptable risk to US national security.”

“Mr. Chew and I also discussed the toxic effect of TikTok’s algorithm on the mental health of teens, and I urged him to consider the harm his platform is doing to a generation of Americans,” former Denver Public Schools Superintendent Senator he said.

Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., an outspoken critic of TikTok who is now the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee, also agreed to sit down with Chew this week “as a courtesy,” his office confirmed.

A spokesperson for Wicker said, “Wicker’s view on TikTok and its threat to US interests remains entirely unchanged.”



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