House Republicans are now looking to ban federal employees from using TikTok after several officials have encouraged the government to ban the app altogether.
- Representative Jim Jordan is leading the charge as several House Republicans draft legislation that could potentially ban federal employees from using the video-sharing social-media app.
- The move comes after multiple reports about privacy concerns on the app and several U.S. officials have called for the app to be banned.
- Reports from the Daily Caller indicate that the House may take up the bill as early as next year when Republicans hold the majority in the House.
Why it’s news
U.S. officials have been growing increasingly concerned about national-security issues related to TikTok. The social media’s parent company ByteDance is Chinese owned and closely connected to the Chinese government.
TikTok, owned by a Chinese company with close ties to the Chinese government, is among the largest social-media sites in the world—approaching 750 million users per month. It is eclipsed only by Facebook and Instagram, each with 2 billion users per month. TikTok meanwhile is growing, while Facebook is fairly stagnant. TikTok revenues for 2021 were about $4.6 billion, compared with Facebook at around $89 billion. But TikTok is more than doubling its top-line figure every year, while Facebook is stagnant.
Several reports showing that the app collects user data and ByteDance employees have access to it has heightened talks about banning the app in the U.S.
Some U.S. companies and U.S. government agencies have already asked staff not to download the app on official devices. Recently South Dakota banned its government employees from downloading—citing security concerns.
South Dakota Representative Dusty Johnson introduced a bill over the summer that would ban TikTok from collecting the data of American users. Rep. Johnson’s bill would also ban the app from government devices including military and federal agency devices.
Last month, Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Representative Mike Gallagher introduced proposed legislation that would ban the app completely in the U.S.
In addition to collecting user data, recent reports have found that the app is spreading political propaganda among U.S. users.
Backing up a bit
A 2021 internal audit of ByteDance’s systems revealed that the company needed to make significant changes to its fraud prevention systems.
TikTok owner ByteDance received an internal report in 2021 detailing the need for investment in anti-fraud programs in order to prevent fraud within its systems.
The report warned that failure to make these changes could result in significant, billion-dollar fines, forced reporting to an outside monitor, criminal indictment of executives, and prohibition of operating in major markets like the U.S.
The risk assessment evaluated typical risks for large companies such as embezzlement and potential conflicts of interest, but the report also focused on the risk caused by Chinese ownership.
According to information provided in the report provided by an employee, “it was ‘impossible’ to avoid ‘sensitive and/or regulated data’ from being ‘improperly’ kept in servers in China,” Forbes reports.
Further, the reports found that company policies, document retention, and executive communication with teams were lacking.