A trio of US lawmakers have introduced new legislation aimed at banning TikTok from operating in the United States.
The new bill, proposed by Senator Marco Rubio, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, and two bipartisan congressmen in the House of Representatives, reflects the recent escalation by US politicians against the Chinese short-form video app. TikTok has doubts about its ability to protect US user data from the Chinese government.
The proposed legislation would block and ban “all transactions” in the United States by social media companies with at least one million monthly users located in countries or under the “substantial influence” of countries deemed foreign adversaries, including China. Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela.
The bill specifically names TikTok and its parent company ByteDance as social media companies for purposes of the legislation. Rubio and one of the House’s supporters for the bill, Wisconsin Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher, announced their intention to introduce the law in a Washington Post op-ed last month.
The legislation comes as a wave of states led by Republican governors introduced state-level restrictions on using TikTok on state-owned devices. At least seven states have introduced such measures in the past two weeks, including Maryland, South Dakota and Utah.
The frenzy of activity contrasts with the lengthy negotiations TikTok has been in for years with the US government over a potential deal that could allow the company to address national security concerns and continue to serve US users.
“The federal government has yet to take one meaningful action to protect American users from the threat posed by TikTok,” Rubio said in a statement. “No more time can be wasted on meaningless negotiations with a CCP puppet company. It’s time to ban Beijing-controlled TikTok for good.”
“It is troubling that instead of encouraging the government to complete its national security review of TikTok, some members of Congress have decided to push for a politically motivated ban that will not advance the national security of the United States,” Hilary McQuaide , a spokesman for TikTok said in a statement.
“We will continue to update Members of Congress on the plans being developed under the oversight of our nation’s leading national security agencies — plans that we are in full swing to implement — to further secure our platform in the United States,” added McQuaide.
TikTok has previously stated that it does not share information with the Chinese government and that a US-based security team decides who can access US user data from China. TikTok has also previously confirmed that China-based employees can currently access user data.
Tuesday’s bill isn’t the only federal law targeting TikTok. Last year, US lawmakers proposed legislation that would ban federal agencies from using TikTok, and Rubio introduced a bill that would force some app makers to disclose proprietary information. Another bill introduced this fall would ban TikTok from giving China-based employees access to US citizens’ user data.
The US military, State Department and Department of Homeland Security have already banned TikTok from devices under their control.