The Biden administration has signaled that it will support recently introduced legislation that would give the president the authority to shut down Chinese-owned social media platform TikTok over privacy and national security concerns.
On Mar. 7, a bipartisan group of 12 U.S. senators introduced the bill amid concerns that Chinese laws allow for the government to obtain sensitive user data, as well as to use the platform to spread propaganda to U.S. users.
The group of senators was led by Mark Warner, a Democrat, who said, “Today everybody is talking about TikTok. But before there was TiKTok, there was Huawei and ZTE. Before that, there was Russia’s Kaspersky Labs.”
He added, “Instead of playing Whac-A-Mole on Huawei one day, ZTE the next, Kaspersky, TikTok, we need a more comprehensive approach to evaluating and mitigating these threats posed by these foreign technologies from these adversarial nations.”
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the bill “would strengthen our ability to address discrete risks posed by individual transactions, and systemic risks posed by certain classes of transactions involving countries of concern in sensitive technology sectors.”
He added, “We look forward to continue working with both Democrats and Republicans on this bill, and urge Congress to act quickly to send it to the president’s desk,” according to Bloomberg.
This is the first time the White House has stated an official position on laws targeting the social media app.
“Over the past several years, foreign adversaries of the United States have encroached on American markets through technology products that steal sensitive location and identifying information of US citizens, including social media platforms like TikTok,” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said in a statement.
The day after the legislation was introduced FBI Director Christopher Wray told a Senate Intelligence Committee that the app “screams” of security concerns.
“This is a tool that is ultimately within the control of the Chinese government — and it, to me, it screams out with national security concerns,” Wray said, according to Reuters.