Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) has expressed intentions to ban the social media app TikTok in the United States. On Tuesday, he said he would introduce legislation to ban the use of the short video app across the nation.
TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, has already been prohibited on all government-owned devices. This ban is what Hawley is using as precedence to his planned bill.
Known for his opposition to TikTok, Hawley calls the social media app a “Trojan Horse” and a “backdoor” for the Chinese Communist Party, which is suspected of using TikTok to gather intel and data on millions of American users.
“It threatens our children’s privacy as well as their mental health,” he said of the app in a tweet.
“Last month Congress banned it on all government devices. Now I will introduce legislation to ban it nationwide,” he continued.
Hawley’s tweet also stated that TikTok is not only a threat to people’s privacy but is also a threat to their mental health.
.@tiktok_us is China’s backdoor into Americans’ lives. It threatens our children’s privacy as well as their mental health. Last month Congress banned it on all government devices. Now I will introduce legislation to ban it nationwide
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) January 24, 2023
He, however, did not say when he would be introducing the bill. Speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill later, the Congressman explained that the legislation is specifically targeted at TikTok. As he explained, the bill does not seek to “ban any other app, but it also requires a comprehensive report to Congress on the national security threat” poses to Americans.
TikTok, on its end, has already pushed back on the plan. “Senator Hawley’s call for a total ban of TikTok takes a piecemeal approach to national security and a piecemeal approach to broad industry issues like data security, privacy and online harms,” spokeswoman Brooke Oberwetter said in a statement in which she advised that Hawley focuses on more holistic solutions to America’s security concerns.
Hawley would, however, not be the only lawmaker to take this step. Last month, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced a bill to ban TikTok entirely in the U.S.
Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) also took a similar measure in the House. Under the proposed legislation, the president could prevent TikTok and other social media companies from operating in the U.S. by imposing sanctions.
None of the bills introduced in the Senate and House were up for consideration. But they count as additional steps towards the eradication of TikTok across the nation after Director Christopher Wray warned last year that the app could be a tool for the Chinese government to gain control of users’ devices for influence or espionage purposes.
Since then, several states have prohibited the use of the app on state-owned devices.