The potential for a TikTok ban in the US is growing after United States lawmakers proposed bills to ban the popular platform.
On Tuesday, the White House backed the RESTRICT Act, a bill that would "empower the United States government to prevent certain foreign governments from exploiting technology services operating in the United States in a way that poses risks to Americans’ sensitive data and our national security."
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the legislation would "strengthen [the US's] ability to address discrete risks posed by individual transactions, and systemic risks posed by certain classes of transactions involving countries of concern in sensitive technology sectors.
The popular platform owned by the Chinese company ByteDance has consistently been accused of being a threat to national security.
Sign up to our free Indy100 weekly newsletter
Earlier this year, a commissioner from the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voiced his concerns about the app.
Brendan Carr, who was nominated by former president Donald Trump for a five-year term with the FCC in 2018, claimed it was a "sophisticated surveillance tool" which is responsible for the "surreptitious access of private and sensitive US user data".
"TikTok is not what it appears to be on the surface. It is not just an app for sharing funny videos or memes. That’s the sheep’s clothing," he wrote to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai.
"At its core, TikTok functions as a sophisticated surveillance tool that harvests extensive amounts of personal and sensitive data."
Trump also threatened to ban the app in 2020, citing, once again, a national threat. The executive order has since been revoked by Joe Biden.
\u201csenator rubio officially introducing bipartisan legislation to ban tiktok nationwide\n \nwait til gen z finds out:\nhttps://t.co/XqYHqLnvdv\u201d— ian bremmer (@ian bremmer) 1670962200
TikTok users had another scare this year when people believed Attorney General Merrick Garland was going to ban TikTok while addressing "national security issues" related to China.
However, Attorney Garland only announced obstruction of justice charges against two Chinese nationalists and an investigation into Huawei Technologies Co – not a TikTok ban.
In 2020, the US accused Huawei Technologies of stealing trade secrets and committing bank fraud.
A year later, they also added conspiracy to commit racketeering to the list of charges against the company.
Although the threat of a TikTok ban was not imminent then, the threat seems to always be looming over the US.
Several states have already enacted restrictions on the app. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), proposed a similar bill earlier this year that would “block and prohibit all transactions” of social media companies that "certain foreign adversaries control" in order to prevent them from collecting data about Americans or spreading influence campaigns, propaganda, or censorship.
Should the bill become approved in the House and Senate it would create a major shake-up for TikTok-addicted people.
Have your say in our news democracy. Click the upvote icon at the top of the page to help raise this article through the indy100 rankings.