The U.S. government is facing increasing calls to ban the widely popular social media app TikTok. This comes after a new piece of legislation was introduced by Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Congressman Ken Buck (R-CO) in an effort to curb its use. The proposed legislation, called the “No TikTok on United States Devices Act,” would ban access to the app on all devices nationwide.
TikTok, which was launched in 2016 by the Chinese company ByteDance, has been the subject of significant controversy in recent years due to concerns over data privacy and security. Government officials, including FBI Director Christopher Wray, have warned that China may be using the app to control or influence users’ devices, collect user data, or engage in malicious cyber activity.
The app has already been banned on state-issued devices in 28 states, and a blanket ban has been imposed across all federal employees, prohibiting them from using or downloading TikTok on government-owned devices. President Biden signed a $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill last month that included a measure to ban the app on all executive branch devices, but this ban does not extend to Congress and its staff.
In addition to government concerns, at least 20 public universities have taken steps to ban TikTok in recent months, restricting access on school computers, mobile phones, and when connected to school WiFi. The app has been in talks with the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment for two years to address national security concerns, including data security and system access, but these discussions have yet to yield any significant results.
A TikTok spokesperson has criticized the proposed nationwide ban, stating that it takes a “piecemeal approach” to data security and privacy issues and will not solve any of the problems that Senator Hawley is concerned about. Despite these objections, Senator Hawley has argued that TikTok constitutes a threat to Americans’ privacy and mental health and has called it China’s “backdoor into Americans’ lives.”
In conclusion, the future of TikTok in the United States remains uncertain as the government and Congress weigh the potential risks and benefits of the popular app. With mounting pressure from government officials, universities, and the public, a nationwide ban may soon become a reality.