On Tuesday, Republican Senator Marco Rubio announced bipartisan legislation to ban China’s popular social media app TikTok, intensifying pressure on owner ByteDance Ltd amid U.S. fears the app could be used to track the location and activities of Americans and censor content.
In a news release, Rubio’s office stated that the legislation would block all transactions from any social media company in or under the influence of China and Russia, adding that a companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives was sponsored by Republican congressman Mike Gallagher and Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi.
“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 said in a statement, adding that the company would continue to brief members of Congress on the plans that are “well underway” to “further secure our platform in the United States.”
The bill comes as inspecrion of TikTok has grown in Washington in recent weeks, after an unsuccessful attempt by the Trump administration to ban the video-sharing app.
Last month, att a hearing, FBI Director Chris Wray said TikTok’s U.S. operations raise national security concerns, increasing the risk that the Chinese government could harness it to influence users or track their devices.
On Monday, Alabama and Utah joined other U.S. states banning the use of TikTok on state government devices and computer networks due to national security concerns.
The U.S. government’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a powerful national security body, in 2020 ordered ByteDance to divest TikTok amid concerns that U.S. user data could be passed on to China’s communist government.
CFIUS and TikTok have been in talks for months trying to reach a national security agreement to protect the data of TikTok’s more than 100 million users.