White House Worries Extend Beyond TikTok

White House Worries Extend Beyond TikTok
Photo Credit: Department of Labor

The Biden administration and lawmakers are trying to identify measures for protecting national security against the threat posed by Chinese social media apps that are gathering data, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told Bloomberg on Thursday.

“What we’re worried about is Chinese-backed companies, being on tens of millions of American phones including members of the military, and privacy concerns, data concerns, misinformation concerns don’t just apply to Tiktok,” she said in an interview at Bloomberg’s Washington office.

Raimondo noted the Biden Administration will work together with Congress to identify the most suitable legal actions.

As lawmakers are discussing ways to tackle the national security threat posed by TikTok, a bill from House Foreign Affairs Chair Michael McCaul has been approved on a party-line 24-16 vote.

The legislation would permit President Biden to ban the video-sharing app in the United States – one of the measures that the House Committee has considered.

But Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo stated last month that outlawing a single company, in this case, TikTok, is not an appropriate solution, highlighting worries regarding freedom of speech and the app's appeal to younger voters.

TikTok, which is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance Ltd., has a vast number of users in the U.S., particularly among teenagers. U.S. officials are concerned about its possible use for propaganda or data collection by the Chinese government to create profiles of American citizens, posing a potential security threat.

In 2020, President Donald Trump attempted to prohibit US residents from engaging in business with TikTok or WeChat, an instant messaging and social media application. However, federal judges blocked these orders, claiming that the administration had not demonstrated that these apps were specifically posing a national security threat that justified a ban, Bloomberg reported.

In 2021, President Joe Biden canceled these bans, instead instructing the Commerce Department to evaluate and take necessary measures against software applications that could put American citizens' sensitive data at risk.