Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said over the weekend that she does not support a total ban on the Chinese social media app TikTok, claiming it would be “unprecedented.”
“Do I believe TikTok should be banned? No. Why should TikTok not be banned? First of all, I think it’s important to discuss how unprecedented of a move this would be,” she stated on the weekend following a congressional hearing on the social media app.
“The United States has never before banned a social media company from existence, from operating in our borders. And this is an app that has over 150 million Americans on it,” the congresswoman added.
Ocasio-Cortez also appeared to dismiss the “egregious amount of data harvesting” done by the Chinese-backed app, following the company’s CEO not being able to fully guarantee that the Chinese government was not accessing TikTok user data. Ocasio-Cortez suggested that instead of banning individual companies like TikTok, Congress should find a way to protect Americans from data harvesting.
Over the weekend, the congresswoman created a TikTok account that already has nearly 400,000 followers. She also posted her first TikTok video, where she addressed some of the same concerns she had about banning the social media platform in the United States, while there has been a growing bipartisan effort to ban the Chinese social media app over national security concerns.
Some thoughts on TikTok…
The congresswoman’s statements come after the popular Chinese social media app has already been banned on United States government devices — when a provision was added to the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill President Joe Biden signed into law — for being a potential national security problem. Numerous governors have also taken similar action on the state level.
There is currently legislation in the U.S. Senate — backed by the Biden administration — that would empower the secretary of Commerce to “ban or prohibit” foreign technology from six adversary nations from entering the United States. This would ultimately include TikTok’s China-based parent company, ByteDance. However, the bipartisan legislation is not TikTok’s first time dealing with the U.S. attempting to eliminate the social media app. In 2020, then-President Donald Trump’s administration tried to ban TikTok, which resulted in the Chinese social media app’s parent company divesting the platform to an American company.
Last week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee conducted a hearing with TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew. Members of Congress grilled him about the various concerns lawmakers have about the social media app. In one instance, Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) was able to get Chew to admit that employees of TikTok’s parent company currently have access to U.S. user data.
“Do any ByteDance employees in China, including engineers, currently have access to U.S. user data?” Latta asked, to which Chew answered, “After Project Texas is done, the answer is no. Today, there is still some data that we need to delete.”
Watch TikTok CEO Not Deny that TikTok’s Parent Company Bytedance Has Access to Americans’ Data:House Committee on Energy and Commerce
During another instance, following Latta’s question, Rep. Kat Cammack (R-FL) grilled Chew over ByteDance having access to the data of millions of Americans using the popular app. Cammack pointedly asked Chew about access to user data, and he eventually responded, “Some user data is public data, congresswoman, which means everybody can search for it on the internet.”
Watch: Rep. Cammack Grills TikTok CEO on Chinese Communist Party’s Access to Americans’ Data:U.S. House of Representatives