WASHINGTON, Dec 13 (Reuters) – Republican Senator Marco Rubio on Tuesday announced bipartisan legislation to ban popular Chinese social media app TikTok, amid U.S. concerns that the app could be used to spy on Americans and censored content, increasing pressure on owner ByteDance Ltd.
Rubio’s office said in a news release that the legislation would block all transactions by any social media company in or influenced by China and Russia, adding that a companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives was sponsored by Republican Congressman Mike Gallagher and Democrat MP Raja initiated Krishnamurti.
“It is disturbing that, rather than encouraging the administration to end the national security review of TikTok, some members of Congress have decided to push for a politically motivated ban that does nothing to advance America’s national security,” a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement. said in a statement, adding that the company would continue to brief members of Congress on “ongoing” plans to “further secure our platform in the United States.”
The bill comes as scrutiny of TikTok has increased in Washington in recent weeks after the Trump administration failed to ban the video-sharing app.
At a hearing last month, FBI Director Chris Wray said TikTok’s U.S. operations raised national security concerns, noting that the Chinese government could use it to influence users or take control of their devices risks of.
Alabama and Utah joined other U.S. states on Monday in banning the use of TikTok on state government equipment and computer networks over national security concerns.read more
In 2020, then-President Donald Trump tried to prevent new users from downloading TikTok and ban other transactions that would have effectively blocked the use of the apps in the United States, but lost a series of court battles over the measure.
The U.S. government’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a powerful national security agency, ordered ByteDance to spin off TikTok in 2020 amid concerns that U.S. user data could be passed on to the Chinese Communist government.
CFIUS and TikTok have been negotiating for months to reach a national security agreement to protect the data of TikTok’s more than 100 million users.
Reporting by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Alexandra Hudson and Marguerita Choy
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