Just days ago, Congress passed a bipartisan spending bill that effectively banned TiikTok, the fastest growing social media network in the world, from all government devices after growing security concerns.
Over the next two months, various government agencies are tasked with developing rules for implementing the ban, forcing all federal government employees to remove TikTok from their government-issued devices unless they are using the app for national security or law enforcement activities.
In recent months, lawmakers and FBI Director Christopher Wray have voiced concerns that TikTok’s ownership by a Chinese company could be dangerous for U.S. user data privacy, as companies in China are required by law to hand over user information if the government requests it.
On Sunday, Wisconsin Rep. Mike Gallagher likened TikTok to “digital fentanyl,” telling NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the government ban on the app should be expanded to all U. users.
“It’s highly addictive and destructive,” he said. “We’re seeing troubling data about the corrosive impact of constant social media use, particularly on young men and women here in America.”
By Gallagher’s reasoning, it would make more sense for all social media to be banned, as TikTok is not the only social media app that has been proven to have harmful effects on users, especially younger users.
But security measures remain a key focus for many, as Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Brendan Carr said recently that India set an “incredibly important precedent” by banning TikTok two and a half years ago, adding that he believes TikTok “operates as a sophisticated surveillance tool.”
Carr then told the Indian daily Economic Times that banning the social app is a “natural next step in our efforts to secure a communication network.”
Without more specific information, it’s difficult to tell whether or not government officials are being paranoid when it comes to the TikTok problem.
However, shortly before Christmas, TikTok owner ByteDance admitted that it inappropriately obtained the data of users, including a Financial Times journalist, in order to analyze their location as part of an internal leaks investigation.
Two staff members in the U.S. and two in China gained access to the IP addresses and other personal data of that same journalist, Cristina Criddle.
The most recent solution to the TikTok problem proposed by Rep. Gallagher involves an American company buying TikTok.
“TikTok is owned by ByteDance,” Gallagher told “Meet the Press." “ByteDance is effectively controlled by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party). So, we have to ask whether we want the CCP to control what is on the cusp of becoming the most powerful media company in America.”
TikTok immediately commented on Gallagher’s allegations, saying that the CCP has neither direct nor indirect control of ByteDance or TikTok.
The story in the Financial Times is a red flag, not paranoia. I wonder why journalists seem more suspicious of the U.S. Government than the Chinese Communist Party.