White House Does About-Face on Supporting Ban

White House Does About-Face on Supporting Ban

(UnitedVoice.com) – Lawmakers from both parties are worried about the risk to security posed by the Chinese-controlled TikTok app. However, the White House has been stalling on the issue. Now it’s finally backtracked and said it will let Congress ban the app from the US.

For two years, legislators — mainly Republicans, but some Democrats too — have been warning that TikTok is a dangerous piece of spyware. The video-sharing platform is particularly popular with young people. It’s built up a bad reputation for spreading viral “challenges,” which are often dangerous, and for allowing activists like Jeffrey Marsh to spread extreme trans ideology to kids. However, it’s also a serious security threat.

Chinese tech company ByteDance controls the app, and like all Chinese companies, it’s required to let China’s feared Ministry of State Security access all its data on demand. This is a real worry, because TikTok is notorious for harvesting data from its users — not just about what they do on TikTok, but everything they do on their phones. Although ByteDance’s US subsidiary claims its data is separate from the Chinese parent company, this is untrue; US user data is often accessed from China.

Former President Donald Trump threatened to ban TikTok from the US if ByteDance didn’t sell off the app, but in 2021, the Biden Administration revoked his orders. Since then, President Joe Biden has been strangely reluctant to act, although the House of Representatives has banned it from all official devices. The Senate has passed a bill to ban it from all government devices used by federal employees.

Now, the administration has finally been pushed into, if not taking action, at least getting out of the way. On March 7, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan announced that the White House now supports the bipartisan RESTRICT Act, which would prevent foreign governments from harvesting user data from apps within the US. The Act could be widely applied, but its real target is TikTok. Sullivan says the administration now wants Congress to pass the bill quickly and send it to Biden for his signature. It might be late, but one hole in our national security could soon be closed.

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