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Trump confirms possible TikTok ban days after Joe Biden’s team was warned not to use it

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President Donald Trump revealed that he is “looking at TikTok” and considering a ban on the social media platform.

Amid concerns that it can be used by China to spy on Americans, the president told reporters Wednesday that a ban is possible on the Chinese-owned social network.

“We’re looking at TikTok, we’re thinking about making a decision,” Trump told reporters outside of the White House on Wednesday before departing for Texas.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin stood alongside the president and interjected with a comment as well, saying that TikTok is “under serious review” and a “recommendation” would be made to Trump soon.

Considerations about TikTok were already underway as the Senate is poised to vote on the “No TikTok on Government Devices Act,” a bill introduced by Senator Josh Hawley and was passed unanimously by the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Last week, the House of Representatives voted to pass Representative Ken Buck’s proposal to prohibit federal employees from downloading the app on government-issued devices and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently warned against the platform which is popular among young teens.

“We are taking this very seriously. We are certainly looking at it,” he told Fox News earlier this month. “We have worked on this very issue for a long time.”

When asked by Fox News if the social media app should continue to be downloaded, Pompeo said: “Only if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”

Use of the video-sharing app has skyrocketed as adolescents and young adults have increasingly turned to it in the last few months in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic. Owned by the Beijing-based tech company ByteDance, TikTok has also gotten the attention of lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle who have raised concerns about its connections to China and even gained attention when thousands of teens bragged about using the app to sabotage Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Ok. last month.

In a preemptive move ahead of any potential actions by the U.S. government, the company reportedly hired new staff in the company’s public policy office including former aides to top Democrats in government. The company has asserted that user data from the app is not stored in China and that it would not comply if asked by China’s government to censor any of its online content.

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential campaign reportedly also pointed to security and privacy concerns in banning staffers from using the application. Biden’s general counsel, Dana Remus, directed staff in a memo this week to “refrain from downloading and using TikTok” and to delete the program from personal and work phones, according to Bloomberg.

U.S. national security experts have expressed concerns over whether the app’s Chinese parent company will end up sharing user data with Beijing, especially in light of China’s new national security law which includes stricter control of online content.

“TikTok is owned by a Chinese company that includes Chinese Communist Party members on its board, and it is required by law to share user data with Beijing,” Hawley said in a statement back in March when he introduced the legislation banning federal employees from using TikTok on government devices.

Frieda Powers

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