As the White House claims to be taking action against TikTok, a Chinese-owned social media company, Republicans suspect that the Senate bill will not ban TikTok at all despite concerns with its use and national security. According to The Washington Free Beacon, the Senate bill, known as the RESTRICT Act, would “give the president new authorities to restrict social media applications run by foreign adversaries,” but the legislation does not require any ban or action to be taken against TikTok in particular, leaving room for its use to actually continue in the United States.
Citing the bill’s weakness, Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) argued that the Biden administration is trying to “avoid confronting their biggest benefactors – China and Big Tech.”
With TikTok reportedly expressing support of the bill for addressing national security while maintaining the free speech of Americans who use the app, it seems unlikely the bill poses any type of threat to the Chinese company. However, Republicans warn that TikTok will remain a threat to America if stronger measures are not taken.
The bill, which was drafted by Republican Senator John Thune (S.D.) and Democratic Senator Mark Warner (Va.), has good intentions some say, but fails to make any real change to protect national security.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla) said the RESTRICT Act “gives the illusion of action, but is not action.”
Alternative pathways for protecting America’s national security via stopping the intrusion of TikTok have been proposed. According to The Washington Free Beacon, “one bill, spearheaded by House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Michael McCaul (R., Texas), would force the administration to make a decision on banning TikTok by a specific deadline, while another championed by Rubio and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R., Wis.) would institute an outright ban. Increased attention on these bills has reportedly forced TikTok’s leadership to consider severing its American arm from Chinese Communist Party control.”
TikTok is a widely used app, popularized by celebrities who have embraced its platform to share short videos of themselves and grow their following. Kids and adults use the app as well as part of their social media interactions. However, allegations that TikTok is an app used by China to spy on the American people and “push Communist propaganda” is a serious issue that has the potential to inflict real damage on America.
While Americans continue to use the platform despite the warning that China is gathering useful information for themselves and promoting content to undermine American values, the Biden administration appears to see no urgency in resolving the matter. Still, Republicans are remaining firm in their fight to protect America’s national security and not give in to pressure coming from the Chinese Communist Party like the White House appears to be doing with their weak legislation.