Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) said on Tuesday he will introduce legislation to ban TikTok nationwide, charging that it violates the privacy of Americans.
“.@tiktok_us is China’s backdoor into Americans’ lives. It threatens our children’s privacy as well as their mental health. Last month Congress banned it on all government devices. Now I will introduce legislation to ban it nationwide,” the Missouri populist wrote.
Hawley for years has moved to rein in TikTok.
Hawley and Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) proposed legislation in March 2020 that would ban TikTok from all federal government devices, citing cybersecurity concerns and possible spying by the Chinese government.
Congress passed Hawley’s bill to ban TikTok, which was signed into law on December 29, 2022. The bill was included in the $1.7 trillion, 4,155-page omnibus spending bill.
Hawley has questioned tech executives about their companies’ potential compliance with Chinese law that could provide the Chinese Communist Party access to data that could endanger Americans’ privacy.
Public officials and pundits across the political spectrum have contended that TikTok amounts to a national security concern.
CIA Director William Burns said during a December interview:
I do. I mean, I think it’s a genuine concern, I think, for the U.S. government, in the sense that, because the parent company of TikTok is a Chinese company, the Chinese government is able to insist upon extracting the private data of a lot of TikTok users in this country, and also to shape the content of what goes onto TikTok as well to suit the interests of the Chinese leadership. I think those are real challenges and a source of real concern.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen echoed Burns’s remarks in a December interview, saying, “Well, it’s that private information could potentially end up in Chinese hands and used in ways that would negatively impact Americans. And there are a number of ways in which that could be — that concern, if it’s found to be significant, could be addressed.”
Hawley has questioned tech companies’ compliance with China’s laws since 2019:
Key testimony from today’s hearing: ANY company that is complying w/ China’s laws giving Beijing access to data is endangering Americans (that means @Apple & @tiktok_us and maybe many more) pic.twitter.com/GOuup34JuD
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) November 5, 2019
Since Hawley and Scott proposed their legislation to ban TikTok on federal government devices, many states, such as Georgia, Montana, Alabama, and Iowa, have moved to ban the controversial Chinese social media app off of their state government devices.
Hawley wrote, “Here’s TikTok acknowledging there are national security concerns with its platform! – but begging Congress not to ban it on government devices.”
Here’s TikTok acknowledging there are national security concerns with its platform! – but begging Congress not to ban it on government devices pic.twitter.com/PPpXCXHuQt
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) December 15, 2022
Former President Donald Trump tried to ban TikTok during his administration by forcing its parent company, ByteDance, to divest from the popular social media app.