Editors at National Review Online call on Congress to force Chinese owners to sell a popular social media company.

Last Thursday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee met to consider a bill that would force ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok, to either divest itself of the company financially or be forbidden from placing the product in online app stores. TikTok responded with a coordinated campaign of lobbying; users of the app were pressured to call their local congressman (with a number helpfully supplied and a button to initiate the call) and “take action now to prevent a TikTok shutdown.” Congressional phone lines were subsequently flooded with tens of thousands of distraught children wailing about their favorite toy being taken away. The Energy and Commerce Committee acted accordingly — in an exceedingly rare 50-0 vote, its members moved immediately to pass the bill out of committee, with Speaker Johnson now set to bring it to the floor for a final vote.

We applaud the bipartisan unanimity of the House committee, which refused to be intimidated by such cloddishly shabby mau-mauing, and we urge all Washington lawmakers in both the House and the Senate to pass this bill expeditiously. TikTok does not need to be shut down, but it cannot be allowed to remain in Chinese hands.

The threat posed by TikTok that should matter most to Congress in considering this legislation doesn’t fundamentally have to do with its content or the behavior of its (overwhelmingly underaged) user base. Rather, it has everything to do with the fact that, aside from its social-media function, it is spyware — spyware owned and controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (as all the nation’s technological products are), farming massive amounts of highly personal information from its users (down to mapping their keystrokes on other apps). TikTok is a national-security threat; that it is an increasingly urgent one that the CCP is willing to weaponize against us is only suggested by its ability to get its user base to ferociously lobby Congress.