Yes, ban TikTok

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Visitors pass the TikTok exhibition stands at the Gamescom computer gaming fair in Cologne, Germany, on Aug. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Yes, ban TikTok

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Consider the possibility that an increasingly potent foreign adversary with ambitions to displace the United States as the world’s dominant power is amassing files right now on every man, woman, and child using an addictive social media app. This foreign power could one day use that data to round up and punish opponents and critics.

It could be a Hollywood thriller, but unfortunately, it is real life.

BIPARTISAN BILL INTRODUCED TO BAN TIKTOK

That is why a group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers, who rarely agree on anything else, has proposed a bill to ban TikTok in this country. TikTok is a popular app, especially with the young, but it is a spyware program that gives China‘s communist government access to personal information. FBI director Christopher Wray noted in testimony before Congress that Bytedance, the company that owns TikTok, is required under Chinese law to share user information with the Chinese Communist Party, now in its ninth decade of tyrannical rule.

One way you know China has weaponized TikTok to spy on and corrupt American children is to compare the Chinese version of the app to the one sold here. In China, TikTok is dominated by educational and patriotic videos that prepare Chinese youth to compete in a global economy or instill national loyalty. In America, TikTok is full of addictive dance videos and dangerous physical challenges that have been shown to cause depression and anxiety in youth.

“We do have national security concerns at least from the FBI’s end about TikTok,” Wray told the House Homeland Security Committee last month. “They include the possibility that the Chinese government could use it to control data collection on millions of users or control the recommendation algorithm, which could be used for influence operations if they so chose, or to control software on millions of devices, which gives it opportunity to potentially technically compromise personal devices.”

This is not an empty threat. China’s government is deadly serious and deliberate about everything it does. In the name of fighting COVID-19, it locked people inside their homes. Some of those thus trapped died in fires because couldn’t get out. Beijing is making it clear it intends to invade the independent Taiwan. It has set up concentration camps to persecute some of its internal ethnic minorities. It discriminates heavily against others. It operates a “social credit” system that determines, based on obedience to the state, where Chinese citizens may live, whether they will be allowed to travel abroad, and whether they will enjoy other personal privileges.

It is therefore hardly surprising, and certainly welcome, that a bipartisan consensus has formed recognizing China as a threat that must be confronted and contained. Getting rid of the menace that TikTok poses to national security is part of that.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) feels so strongly that he was even prepared to give credit to former President Donald Trump — this is not something Democrats usually do — by saying he was right about TikTok being a threat.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) and Mike Gallagher (R-WI) have proposed legislation that would effectively ban TikTok in the U.S. Their bill would block “all transactions from any social media company in, or under the influence of, China, Russia, and several other foreign countries of concern.”

This blanket language would obviate the need for negotiations with TikTok over the disposition of users’ private information. “There is no more time to waste on meaningless negotiations with a CCP-puppet company,” Rubio said in a press release.

The senator explained why in a video released Wednesday. “They allow the Chinese Communist Party to gain access to all of the private data on any device in America that’s using TikTok,” Rubio said. “That’s our kids, that’s phones connected to our kids’ phones, and that’s a national security threat, but it’s a direct threat to our way of life, our economics. It’s allowed them to interfere in midterm elections.”

TikTok, your time should be up.

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