WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Citing national security concerns, a new bill before Congress would ban popular video app TikTok across the U.S.
“There’s a threat to the security and privacy of every American who uses it and that includes, especially, our kids,” bill sponsor Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said.
He said the Chinese government is using the app, which is owned by a Chinese company, to collect data on its roughly 80 million U.S. users.
“It is tracking their emails, it is tracking their key strokes, it is looking at their photos, it is reading their contact list,” Hawley listed. “All of it is available to the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing.”
TikTok denies the allegation, calling Hawley’s proposed ban a “piecemeal” approach to national security.
But leaders from the FBI, Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security have all voiced concern, spurring lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to ban TikTok from government devices last year. Hawley and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., led the effort.
Warner said a sweeping nationwide ban wouldn’t solve the overarching problem.
“It’s TikTok today … who knows what it will be tomorrow,” he said. “We need an approach that says we’re going to look at foreign-based technology.”
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr agreed, but still supported a ban.
“We know enough to take immediate near-term action on TikTok while then we then continue to have discussions on how do we put broader protections in place,” he said. “We just had news break a couple weeks ago that TikTok officials inside China were using the application surveil the location of U.S. reporters.”
The White House is considering its own set of actions that could require TikTok to make changes to its data security policies.