The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee announced he will introduce legislation banning the video-sharing app TikTok as a step toward modernizing national security protocols.
Senator Mark Warner of Virginia said the move was necessary to protect Americans from the increasing threat of the Chinese Communist Party.
“We have never had a potential adversary like China. The Soviet Union, Russia, was military or ideological, China is investing in economic areas,” Warner said during a March 5 appearance on Fox News Sunday. “They have $500 billion in intellectual property theft, and we are in a competition not just on a national security basis but on a technology basis.”
The Democrat and South Dakota Senator John Thune, a Republican, are collaborating on the bill. If passed, the law would give the federal government the authority to ban or prohibit technology created by foreign adversaries “when necessary.”
“Listen, you have 100 million Americans on TikTok, 90 minutes a day. … They are taking data from Americans, not keeping it safe, but what worries me more with TikTok is that this could be a propaganda tool,” said Warner.
“The kind of videos you see would promote ideological issues,” he added. “If you look at what TikTok shows to the Chinese kids, which is all about science and engineering, versus what our kids see, there’s a radical difference.”
Warner has described his impending policy proposal as a “broad bipartisan bill” that would “protect our national security against a wide range of foreign tech threats.”
Approximately 100 million people in the United States – the majority of whom are under 30 – use TikTok, per The New York Post. The social media platform is owned by ByteDance, a Bejing-based company that is required to comply with data divulgence regulations established by the Chinese government’s 2017 National Security Law.
TikTok has denied that it turns user data over to the Chinese government.
Warner’s announcement comes days after the House Committee on Foreign Affairs voted in favor of a bill that would grant the president the ability to ban TikTok in the United States. The Deterring America’s Technological Adversaries Act would prohibit engaging with any app if it “knowingly provides or may transfer sensitive personal data” of Americans.
“Anyone with TikTok downloaded on their device has given the CCP a backdoor to all their personal information. It’s a spy balloon into your phone,” said Texas Congressman Michael McCaul, the committee’s chairman.
Additionally, more than 20 state governors – including both Republicans and Democrats – have prohibited using or downloading TikTok on state-owned devices or networks.