US Lawmakers Call for TikTok Ban Over Claims China Abuses Platform to Spy on Users

© AP Photo / Kiichiro SatoA logo of a smartphone app TikTok is seen on a user post on a smartphone screen Monday, Sept. 28, 2020, in Tokyo.
A logo of a smartphone app TikTok is seen on a user post on a smartphone screen Monday, Sept. 28, 2020, in Tokyo.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.11.2022
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Rep. Mike Gallagher co-authored an op-ed in the Washington Post calling for TikTok to be banned in the US. Rubio and Gallagher announced an intent to introduce legislation banning TikTok and other social media companies under Chinese Communist Party control.
"TikTok offers the CCP a unique ability to monitor more than 1 billion users worldwide, including nearly two-thirds of American teenagers. We must ban this potential spyware before it is too late — not encourage its use in the United States," they said in the op-ed.
Republicans argue that increasing tension with China over Taiwan puts Americans at risk for potential surveillance by the Chinese.
TikTok is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, which is not state-owned, but Rubio and Gallagher point out that China's National Intelligence law obligates all citizens and businesses to assist in data-sharing as part of intelligence work.
This leaves Americans sensitive to surveillance by way of keystrokes tracking, location tracking, and browsing history collection, officials argue.
"Beijing could also collect sensitive national security information from US government employees and develop profiles on millions of Americans to use for blackmail or espionage," they wrote.
This isn't the first time that such claims have been made against the social media platform; in fact, former US President Donald Trump voiced similar concerns that TikTok posed national security threat.
A picture of U.S. President Donald Trump is seen on a smartphone in front of displayed Tik Tok and WeChat logos in this illustration taken September 18, 2020. - Sputnik International, 1920, 24.09.2020
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At the time, Trump went so far as imposing a deadline for the Chinese-owned app to be sold to an American company.
TikTok has surpassed 3.5 billion total downloads, and is consistently one of the top-downloaded apps in the world.
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