TikTok to be banned in US? Lawmakers fear it is being used to spy on Americans

TikTok
(Image credit: TikTok / Ben Mater on Unsplash)

ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, is based in China. And along with Russia and several other foreign regions it is being called a "country of concern" by the office of US Senator Marco Rubio, in a recent press release detailing bipartisan legislation that is aiming to ban TikTok from operations in the United States. 

This ban has already been implemented in states such as Maryland and South Dakota, to address cybersecurity risks presented by certain China and Russia-based platforms amid fears of cyber-espionage, government surveillance, and sensitive and personal data collection.

• Check out the best cameras for TikTok (opens in new tab)

TikTok is a world-leading video-based social media platform that has captured the attention of a large portion of the population, thanks to its use by businesses, celebrities and the younger generations. As such, the US government, lawmakers, and even the FBI appear to have concerns over the app being parented by a Chinese-based company, as it could provide a cybersecurity breach. 

Concerns of TikTok being used "to spy on Americans" might sound a bit silly and farfetched. However, the recent statement (opens in new tab) from Rubio put forward the fact that ByteDance is "required by Chinese law to make the app’s data available to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)". 

The Floridian Senator has, in an attempt to prevent potential data breaches, introduced a bipartisan (political two-party) legislation to ban TikTok from operating in the United States. 

"The federal government has yet to take a single meaningful action to protect American users from the threat of TikTok," insists Rubio. "This isn’t about creative videos – this is about an app that is collecting data on tens of millions of American children and adults every day. 

"We know it's used to manipulate feeds and influence elections. We know it answers to the People's Republic of China. There is no more time to waste on meaningless negotiations with a CCP-puppet company. It is time to ban Beijing-controlled TikTok for good."

(Image credit: Getty Images)

We recently reported on why the UK Government is banning Chinese security cameras (opens in new tab). The reasons are similar to the US war on TikTok, involving Chinese companies and manufacturers being required by their national laws to report back and share any acquired data with their government. Maybe this isn't just paranoia or modern techphobia after all?

US Representatives Mike Gallagher and Raja Krishnamoorthi have introduced companion legislation, and sponsored a bill in the US House of Representatives that support Senator Rubio. Only last month, FBI director Christopher Wray shared his extreme concerns (opens in new tab) with Congress over TikTok posing a national security threat,

The ban on TikTok in South Dakota has taken effect immediately and, according to the executive order that was issued by Governor Kristi Noem, blocks the use of the TikTok app or visiting the website on state-owned or -leased electronic devices, as reported by (opens in new tab) USA Today.

(Image credit: Getty)
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The potential spyware app, TikTok, is said to be offering the CCP an easy and unique ability to monitor more than a billion users worldwide, as well as nearly two-thirds of American teenagers, according to (opens in new tab) The Washington Post. 

The conspiracy doesn't end there, as Forbes uncovered (opens in new tab) through data on LinkedIn profiles that 23 of ByteDance's directors have been previously involved with and worked for CCP and Chinese State Media outlets that serve propaganda, and 300 TikTok and ByteDance employees used to work for them, with at least 15 employees confirmed to still work for the CCP today.

Do we now need to be cautious of everything that says "made in China"? Or is this just a media moral panic that's gone a little overboard? 

You may also be interested in the best TikTok filters and effects (opens in new tab), as well as the best TikTok lights for creative videos (opens in new tab), and not forgetting these 8 tips for using TikTok to promote your photography (opens in new tab).

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Beth Nicholls
Staff Writer

A staff writer for Digital Camera World, Beth has an extensive background in various elements of technology with five years of experience working as a tester and sales assistant for CeX. After completing a degree in Music Journalism, followed by obtaining a Master's degree in Photography awarded by the University of Brighton, she spends her time outside of DCW as a freelance photographer specialising in live music events and band press shots under the alias 'bethshootsbands'.