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Column: Congressman Nick Langworthy

"The Bipartisan Effort to Protect Americans from the Chinese Communist Party's Influence on TikTok"

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 13, 2024 -- The popular platform for short-form videos, TikTok, changed the way young Americans view the world. With an estimated 170 million Americans using TikTok every month, the app is dominating the social media landscape and controlling a major portion of the media consumed by its users. Did you know that every single one of these 170 million users, including American children, agreed to the terms and conditions of the app, allowing TikTok to access all of the personal data on the user's phone?

This is a significant problem as TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, is owned by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) -- meaning all of its users' personal data is fed directly to our adversary. Essentially, TikTok is operating as Communist Chinese malware that is not only indoctrinating the next generation but it is also compromising our privacy and national security.

The implications of this data collection cannot be overstated. With every dance challenge and lip-sync video, American users are unknowingly contributing to a vast surveillance apparatus that serves the interests of an adversarial government known for its authoritarian practices and disregard for individual privacy rights. The potential for abuse of this data is chilling, ranging from targeted advertising to espionage and intelligence gathering.

Additionally, TikTok's pervasive influence among young Americans makes it an ideal tool for the CCP to propagate its narratives, shape perceptions, and advance its geopolitical agenda. Through curated content and manipulation of its algorithms, TikTok can subtly influence the beliefs and behaviors of millions of users, effectively serving as a vehicle for ideological indoctrination and foreign propaganda.

In light of these alarming realities, decisive action is warranted to mitigate the risks TikTok poses in its current form. That's why the House is moving forward with overwhelmingly bipartisan legislation to force TikTok to break up with the Chinese Communist Party. H.R. 7521, Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, prevents app store availability or web hosting services in the United States for ByteDance-controlled applications, including TikTok, unless the application severs ties to entities like ByteDance that are subject to the control of a foreign adversary, as defined by Congress in Title 10.

In addition, the bill creates a process for the President to designate certain, specifically defined social media applications that are subject to the control of a foreign adversary -- per Title 10 -- and pose a national security risk. Designated applications will be prohibited from app store availability and web hosting services in the U.S. unless they sever ties to entities subject to the control of a foreign adversary through divestment.

This legislation passed unanimously out of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, with both parties enthusiastically voting to advance it. This week, a final vote on the House floor reaffirmed the bipartisan support for this legislation, with 352 members voting to send it to the Senate.

Put simply, this is not a total ban of TikTok. H.R. 7521 gives the app time to separate from its CCP-backed parent company if it wants continued access to its American users. It's time to wake up to the real national security threat at hand. Through this common-sense legislation and bipartisan cooperation, Congress has an opportunity to uphold American values, defend against foreign interference, and ensure the continued prosperity and security of our nation for generations to come.

Photo in text: Congressman Nick Langworthy

© The Odessa File 2024
Charles Haeffner
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Odessa, New York 14869

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