Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida introduced the legislation after announcing plans to do so last month with Republican Representative Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin. Gallagher and Democratic Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois introduced paired legislation in the House as well.
“The bipartisan ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act is a strong step in protecting our nation from the nefarious digital surveillance and influence operations of totalitarian regimes,” Krishnamoorthi said in a statement.
The Senate bill is called the Averting the National Threat of Internet Surveillance, Oppressive Censorship and Influence, and Algorithmic Learning by the Chinese Communist Party Act (ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act) and would “block and prohibit all transactions in all property and interests in property of” a social media company that is based in or “organized under the laws of a country of concern.”
A company would also be eligible for blocking if it is owned or controlled by a “country of concern,” among other criteria.
The bill specifically calls out companies TikTok, and its parent company Bytedance, Ltd., a Chinese company.
The legislation also points out that a “country of concern” means “foreign adversary” as defined in the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act of 2019. Countries included under its definition are China, which includes “the Special Administrative Regions of China, including Hong Kong and Macau,” as well as Russia, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, and North Korea.
“The federal government has yet to take a single meaningful action to protect American users from the threat of TikTok. This isn’t about creative videos — this is about an app that is collecting data on tens of millions of American children and adults every day,” Rubio said in a statement. “We know it’s used to manipulate feeds and influence elections. We know it answers to the People’s Republic of China. There is no more time to waste on meaningless negotiations with a CCP-puppet company. It is time to ban Beijing-controlled TikTok for good.”
Representative Gallagher said in a statement that TikTok is “digital fentanyl that’s addicting Americans, collecting troves of their data, and censoring their news.”
“Allowing the app to continue to operate in the U.S. would be like allowing the U.S.S.R. to buy up the New York Times, Washington Post, and major broadcast networks during the Cold War. No country with even a passing interest in its own security would allow this to happen, which is why it’s time to ban TikTok and any other CCP-controlled app before it’s too late,” Gallagher added.