Reviews | Marco Rubio, Mike Gallagher: Ban TikTok in America

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Marco Rubio, a Republican, is a United States Senator from Florida. Mike Gallagher, a Republican, represents Wisconsin’s 8th congressional district in the House.

The United States is locked in a new cold war with the Chinese Communist Party, a war that senior military advisers say could escalate at any time over Taiwan. Yet millions of Americans are increasingly relying on TikTok, a Chinese social media app exposed to CCP influence, to check the news, share content and connect with friends.

Already among the most popular media companies in the United States, TikTok offers the CCP a unique ability to monitor more than a billion users worldwide, including nearly two-thirds of American teenagers. We need to ban this potential spyware before it’s too late, not encourage its use in the United States, as President Biden is doing.

TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance. It’s not a public company, but in China no company is truly private. Under the National Intelligence Act of 2017, all citizens and businesses are required to participate in intelligence work, which includes data sharing.

That’s not all. According to Forbes, LinkedIn profiles reveal that 23 of ByteDance’s directors previously worked for CCP propaganda outlets, and at least 15 ByteDance employees now work for them. Additionally, the company’s editor, who also happens to be the secretary of its internal CCP committee, pointed out that the committee would “take the lead” in “all product lines and lines of business” to ensuring that ByteDance’s products have “correct political direction”. .”

Corporate ownership of TikTok is problematic for two reasons. First, the app can track the locations of cell phone users and collect internet browsing data even when users visit unrelated websites.

That TikTok, and by extension the CCP, has the ability to investigate every keystroke teenagers enter on their phones is disturbing. With this app, Beijing could also collect sensitive national security information from US government employees and develop profiles on millions of Americans to use for blackmail or espionage.

Of course, TikTok denies it would ever do such a thing. It’s hard to believe, however, in light of recent reports from Forbes that ByteDance planned to use the app to monitor the locations of US citizens for undisclosed purposes unrelated to advertising.

TikTok did not respond to questions from Forbes about whether it was targeting US government officials, activists, public figures or journalists. The company’s refusal to be transparent invites suspicion that the CCP may already be collecting data from the app.

However, the potential abuse of TikTok’s algorithm is even more alarming than this possibility.

TikTok provides open content from people around the world. Its algorithm is a black box, in that its designers can modify its operation at any time without informing users. Presumably, it’s designed to identify and promote content with a high chance of going viral – catchy music, dances, jokes, etc. But in the hands of ByteDance, it could also be used to subtly indoctrinate American citizens.

TikTok has previously censored references to politically sensitive topics, including the treatment of workers in Xinjiang, China, and the 1989 protests in Tiananmen Square. He temporarily blocked an American teenager who criticized the treatment of Uyghurs in China. In German videos about Chinese behavior towards Uyghurs, TikTok changed captions for terms such as “re-education camp” and “labor camp”, replacing the words with asterisks.

The CCP could also use TikTok to broadcast videos that support pro-party politicians or exacerbate discord in American society. These videos don’t have to be from CCP proxies – they can be created by anyone. With essentially unlimited data on user-created content at its disposal, Beijing can leverage it to fan the flames of domestic division.

And thanks to the growing number of adults getting their news from TikTok, the platform has the ability to influence what issues Americans learn about, what information they consider accurate, and what conclusions they draw from events. global. This places extraordinary power in the hands of the company’s employees who could be overthrown by the CCP at any time.

TikTok is a major national security threat to the United States. Still, Biden is encouraging greater engagement with the platform by courting TikTok influencers directly. Additionally, reports suggest he is close to reaching a deal that would allow TikTok to continue operating in the US without any change in ownership.

This would dangerously compromise national security and provide a model for other CCP-controlled companies to establish themselves in the United States with minimal scrutiny. Unless TikTok and its algorithm can be separated from Beijing, use of the app in the United States will continue to compromise our country’s security and pave the way for a Chinese-influenced tech landscape here.

These are unacceptable results. This is why we are introducing legislation that would ban TikTok and other social media companies that are effectively controlled by the CCP from operating in the United States. Congress must act against the TikTok threat before it’s too late.

About Hector Hedgepeth

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