Lawmakers explore TikTok ban over privacy concerns

Published: Feb. 22, 2023 at 4:14 PM EST

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - TikTok is one of the most popular apps and social media outlets in the world. Globally, in 2022, it topped the download charts with nearly 700 million new users.

In the U.S. lawmakers want to ban you from using it. There are now several bills in Congress aiming to ban TikTok in the U.S. This because of the accusation that while you’re watching people get ready, or dance, the Chinese government may eventually get access to your private information.

Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo) said, “I don’t think it matters what laws we pass to regulate TikTok, I don’t think they’ll follow them. So that’s what gets us to where we are are now, which is as it relates to this social media company, I think we just have to ban ‘em.”

Hawley recently introduced a bill to outright ban the app in the United States.

Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) said he’s aiming at a larger bill that addresses how the Chinese government may access U.S. user data. Warner said of TikTok, “I think a full and complete ban needs to be on the table.”

TikTok’s parent company, Bytedance, recently offered to allow an independent third-party to come in and monitor what it’s collecting from U.S.-based users.

However, that doesn’t appear to be enough to ease concerns from U.S. lawmakers, or the Department of Justice. During a recent trip to London, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said if the Chinese government demands user data from TikTok, then TikTok is federally required to turn it over.

Monaco said, “I don’t use TikTok and I would not advise anybody to do so.”

Jennifer Huddleston, from the libertarian Cato Institute, acknowledged there are concerns with TikTok but questioned lawmaker attempts to ban the app.

Huddleston said, “When looking at these bans I think we need to take a step back and look at the potential First Amendment concerns that arise from a complete TikTok ban. As well as have we seen sufficient evidence to support the national security allegations.”

TikTok spokesperson, Brooke Oberwetter, said in a statement, “We hope that Congress will explore solutions to their concerns about TikTok that won’t have the effect of censoring the voices of millions of Americans. The swiftest and most thorough way to address national security concerns is for CFIUS to adopt the proposed agreement that we worked with them on for nearly two years. That plan includes layers of government and independent oversight to ensure that there are no backdoors into TikTok that could be used to access data or manipulate the platform. These measures go beyond what any peer company is doing today on security.”