Support growing among Democrats for TikTok ban

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FILE – This Monday, Sept. 28, 2020, file photo, shows the TikTok logo on a smartphone in Tokyo. On Sunday, March 6, 2022, Netflix and TikTok suspended most of their services in Russia as the government cracks down on what people and media outlets can say about Russia’s war in Ukraine. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File) Kiichiro Sato/AP

Support growing among Democrats for TikTok ban

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Democrats appear to be slowly pivoting toward the support of a total ban of the social media app TikTok over its connections to Chinese-operated companies.

Many Republicans, especially China hawks, have backed such a ban on TikTok. But now more Democrats are joining them as more details about TikTok’s privacy and security practices have been made public.

At least four Democratic lawmakers have voiced support for such a policy in recent days. Most notably, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) expressed support for considering the ban.

“We do know there’s Chinese ownership of the company that owns TikTok. And there are some people in the Commerce Committee that are looking into that right now,” Schumer told ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos on Sunday. “We’ll see where they come out.”

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Sen. Angus King (I-ME) also voiced concerns about China’s relationship with TikTok. While King has registered as an independent, he regularly caucuses with Democrats.

“We cannot allow hostile governments to use our social media habits as a Trojan Horse into our networks,” King said in a press statement. “Make no mistake — every ‘private’ enterprise in China has direct ties and on-demand information-sharing requirements with the national government.”

King called for TikTok to divest from its parent company ByteDance, or Congress will “take the necessary steps to protect Americans from potential foreign spying and misinformation operations.”

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) called for Big Tech companies to pull TikTok from their app stores in a letter sent on Feb. 2.

Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) warned that TikTok has “a big mountain to climb” to prove that its data protection practices are sufficient to ensure American privacy.

“It’s good that Democratic lawmakers are waking up to the threat, but we need to workshop the solution,” Adam Kovacevich, the CEO of the progressive tech advocacy group Chamber of Progress, told the Washington Examiner. Kovacevich said a change in ownership for TikTok would be preferred over an outright ban since “millions of U.S. users” love the app.

Caitlin Seeley George, campaigns and managing director for the privacy group Fight for the Future, told the Washington Examiner that a ban on TikTok would not protect consumers’ data.

“If lawmakers actually cared about other governments accessing American’s data they should pass a data privacy law to protect us from the wide range of companies that collect, store, and sell our data,” she said. “Even if Congress did ban TikTok, the Chinese government could just buy the same type of information from data brokers, who have even more data than TikTok alone! Targeting one company like this is just pointless.”

Most Democrats voted in favor of a ban on installing TikTok on government devices in December. Twenty-five state governments have also banned TikTok from government devices.

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is set to speak before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Mar. 23.

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The House Foreign Affairs Committee is expected to vote on a bill next month that could ban the app outright in the United States.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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