(CNSNews.com) — While speaking at the Heritage Foundation, House Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), who introduced legislation banning TikTok on government devices, spoke about the “dangerous and concerning” ways in which the Communist Chinese-owned social media app undermines U.S. national security.
On Jan. 11, at an event entitled “Big Tech’s War on Free Speech,” Rep. Buck spoke with the Director of the Tech Policy Center at the Heritage Foundation, Kara Frederick, about the ways in which big tech monopolies have conspired to censor the speech of many U.S. citizens.
“Tik Tok. So, what is your take on that platform, frankly, emanating out of China, ByteDance parent company? I’d like to hear your take on this new issue in big tech,” Frederick asked the congressman.
Big Tech’s War on Free Speech https://t.co/UlZfFyQAWy
— Heritage Foundation (@Heritage) January 11, 2023
“So, Senator [Josh] Hawley had a bill in the Senate and I had a bill in the House that prohibited Tik Tok from being used on government phones because it is clearly a tool that the Communist Party in China is using to monitor U.S. behavior and individual U.S. data,” said Buck.
In April 2020, Buck introduced a bill to ban Tik Tok on government devices, to be included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which passed the House by a vote of 336 to 71.
However, Buck’s provision did not make it into the final 2021 NDAA.
In April 2021, Buck re-introduced the bill under the title “No Tik Tok on Government Devices Act,” to accompany an identical bill that had been introduced by Senator Hawley (R-Mo.) in the Senate.
As CNS News has previously reported, Hawley’s bill eventually made it to the Senate floor on Dec. 14, 2022 and was passed by unanimous consent.
After being held up in Congress for two years, the No Tik Tok on Government Devices Act was included in the $1.7-trillion, 4,155-page omnibus bill that funds the federal government for fiscal year 2023.
“President Trump issued an executive order that took care of that and I think the omni had some language in there,” Buck also explained.
In August 2020, President Trump issued an executive order with the intent of banning the social media app, which became held up in the courts.
When President Joe Biden took office, he rescinded Trump’s executive orders pertaining to Tik Tok and issued an executive order directing the Department of Commerce to evaluate apps with ties to foreign adversaries in order to determine what makes one an “unacceptable risk.”
Buck made it clear that his opposition to Tik Tok stems from national security concerns and not concerns about the app itself:
“But Tik Tok is dangerous not because of, it’s competition in the marketplace, I think it’s healthy in that sense. If Microsoft or some company had bought it, I’d be all in favor of that kind of competition for Facebook but the bottom line is how it’s being used by an adversary is dangerous and concerning.”
Some lawmakers have taken further steps to combat TikTok’s presence in the United States. On Dec. 13, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced the bipartisan “Averting the National Threat of Internet Surveillance, Oppressive Censorship and Influence, and Algorithmic Learning by the Chinese Communist Party Act (ANTI-SOCIAL CCP ACT),” which calls for the prohibition of TikTok from operating in the United States.
This Act also blocks any social media app under the influence of China, Russia, and other countries of concern. Representatives Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) have introduced a companion piece of legislation in the House.
As CNS News has previously reported, Tik Tok is a social media platform owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, which is located and operates in the People’s Republic of China. ByteDance is subject to all of Communist China’s national security laws. If the Communist Chinese Party calls on TikTok to share data and information with the party, ByteDance is required to comply with their request.
TikTok has taken steps to combat rising bipartisan awareness of its security concerns, although it does not appear to be going over well with Congress given the bipartisan support of these bills.
Former congressional staffer and now TikTok’s top U.S. lobbyist, Michael Beckerman, spoke with CNN’s Jake Tapper on these recent bills. During the interview, Tapper gave Beckerman five opportunities to offer a condemnation of the CCP’s imprisonment of nearly two million ethnic Uyghurs in concentration camps in China’s Xinjiang province. Beckerman refused to offer any words of criticism, stating that he, as a representative of TikTok, is “not here to be the expert on human rights violations around the world.”
.@jaketapper presses TikTok lobbyist Michael Beckerman on the Chinese government’s Uyghur genocide. Asked if he believes that China has placed Uyghurs in concentration camps, Beckerman dodges.
Tapper asks him at least 5X, but Beckerman *refuses* to condemn the Party’s actions: pic.twitter.com/Ozv0guuqCW
— Jimmy Quinn (@james_t_quinn) December 21, 2022
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