by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Editors at National Review Online urge authorities to outlaw a popular social media platform.
A series of reports detailing TikTok’s undeniable ties to China has once again subjected the company to the sort of scrutiny that it deserves, making it more likely that Congress or the executive branch institutes a ban on the TikTok app.
Since June, we’ve learned, among other things, that engineers in China accessed the data of TikTok users, that another China-based team planned to monitor the locations of specific U.S. citizens, that there are no meaningful firewalls blocking TikTok’s U.S. operations from its China-based parent ByteDance, and that 300 TikTok and ByteDance employees have come from Chinese state media outlets.
The upshot is simple. There’s very little — if anything at all — that separates TikTok from ByteDance. And ByteDance’s connections to the Chinese Communist Party, including an internal CCP committee that meets at the company’s headquarters to study party orthodoxy and that has a contract to promote propaganda surrounding the mass abuses against Uyghurs, are reason enough to bar TikTok from operating in the U.S.
Appropriately, the bipartisan political response to these revelations has been massive. South Dakota governor Kristi Noem just announced that her state would no longer permit its employees to use the app on their work phones. Such action on the state level is a good start. But something more significant might be in the offing. Treasury secretary Janet Yellen and FBI director Christopher Wray have both referred to TikTok as a national-security threat in recent weeks. Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Mike Gallagher recently introduced legislation to ban the app outright. And Democrats aren’t so far behind: Senate intelligence chairman Mark Warner has stressed that Donald Trump was right to seek a ban of the app, while Senator Chris Murphy tweeted that Chinese ownership of TikTok is unacceptable.