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Chuck Schumer considers national ban on TikTok

By Elizabeth Delaney
|
February 13, 2023

The TikTok app ban in the United States is gaining momentum among government officials.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was interviewed on Sunday by George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

Schumer expresses concern about TikTok

During the interview, Stephanopoulos asked Schumer about his thoughts on TikTok.

"Well, that's a great question. It's something that should be looked at. We do know there's Chinese ownership of the company that owns TikTok. And there are some people in the commerce committee that are looking into that right now. We'll see – we'll see where they come out," he said.

Stephanopoulos also had Republican Rep. James Comer (KY-01) on his show and posed the same question to him.

Comer weighs-in on TikTok

"Do you agree with Senator Schumer we should be taking a look at TikTok?" Stephanopoulos asked.

"Absolutely. We have said that in the House Oversight Committee," Comer said.

He went on to note that the app's parent company, ByteDance is based in China.

"TikTok executives testified in Congress a year or two ago that none of the data that TikTok collected ever left the United States. But what we've learned from – from whistle-blowers and media accounts is some of that data did, in fact, go back to China, and that's a concern," Comer said.

He pointed out that this was especially concerning for those in high-level positions in the government because TikTok could notify the Chinese government of their location.

"So that would be a concern if we continue to see escalation among China and the United States. We certainly don't want the — the Chinese bad guys to know where our public officials are. And that's why you're seeing more state governments ban TikTok. And I think that's going to continue to trend," Comer said.

Other lawmakers who want TikTok banned

Other lawmakers who have introduced legislation to block TikTok due to concerns that the app may be sharing information about U.S. users with the Chinese government are Senator Mark Rubio (R-FL) and Senator Angus King (I-ME), according to Stars and Stripes.

As of Jan. 16, there are 32 states restricting TikTok on devices that are state issued, according to CNN.

Of those 32, nine have issued a ban on additional apps.

TikTok admits that it does collect some information

TikTok is not hiding the fact that it collects some information on its users.

Some of the items specified on TikTok's Privacy Policy include app usage, device location information obtained via the user's SIM card or IP address, meta data, and cookies, Business Insider reported in May of 2022.

That being said, law enforcement is also able to gain access to IP addresses. There have been instances when they have done so to break up rings of various illegal activity, according to Investopedia.

It's reasonable to expect that whatever aspects of technology can be used for lawful purposes, can also be used for nefarious and illegal purposes.

Other information items that can be collected include information from chat messages and biometric data, according to Business Insider.

TikTok CEO will testify before The Committee on Energy and Commerce

Lawmakers have expressed concern about China using its laws to pressure TikTok or ByteDance into demanding information it collects for intelligence or for propaganda purposes, according to KMIZ.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) released an announcement on Jan. 30 that TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew will make an appearance in front of The Committee on Energy and Commerce.

The purpose of that hearing is for the CEO to detail TikTok's consumer privacy and data security practices, how the platform is impacting children, and the app's relationship with the Chinese Communist Party, according to The Committee on Energy and Commerce website.

That hearing will be taking place on March 23, 2023.