WASHINGTON - The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee voted on Wednesday to give President Joe Biden the power to ban Chinese-owned TikTok nationally.
The bill, introduced Friday by Committee Chair Mike McCaul, R-Texas, would allow President Biden or any future president to impose sanctions, including a possible ban, against any company that "knowingly provides or may transfer sensitive personal data" to any foreign person or company that is "subject to the jurisdiction of" China.
Make no mistake, TikTok is a national security threat. It allows the CCP to manipulate and monitor its users while it gobbles up Americans’ data to be used for their malign activities. Anyone with TikTok downloaded on their device has given the CCP permission and a back door to all their personal information. In other words, it’s a spy balloon in your phone," McCaul said at the top of a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the bill on Tuesday.
McCaul is not alone his concerns about potential data breaches executed by TikTok.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott called the Chinese-owned social media app a "national security threat and a cybersecurity risk to all Texans" in a televised interview with FOX.
Shortly after, Governor Abbott banned the app from all government-issued devices in Texas, inspiring a group of Texas universities to ban the app in the process.
TikTok harvests vast amounts of data from its users’ devices—including when, where, and how they conduct Internet activity—and offers this trove of potentially sensitive information to the Chinese government,” Abbott said.
Home to over 1 billion users, TikTok has been a breeding ground to widespread data breaches and cybersecurity risks.
President Biden has already banned the app from all government-issued devices, but could soon remove the app from U.S. app stores altogether.
Not everyone is for the removal of the app, though, as questions of whether banning the app restricts online speech freedoms or not.
With the threat of a national ban looming, TikTok released a statement in its defense.
A U.S. ban on TikTok is a ban on the export of American culture and values to the billion-plus people who use our service worldwide," Brooke Oberwetter, a TikTok spokesperson, said in a statement to ABC News.
We're disappointed to see this rushed piece of legislation move forward, despite its considerable negative impact on the free speech rights of millions of Americans who use and love TikTok."
Regardless of how much it may be adored by users, the cybersecurity risks attached to the app appear to be too much for the U.S. government to ignore.
Should President Biden decide to pull the plug on the app, he now has the legislative power to do so.
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