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February 13, 2023

King, Rubio Introduce Bill to Ban Social Media Platforms Managed by Companies in Adversarial Countries

Bipartisan, bicameral bill requires social media platforms like TikTok to divest from foreign companies to continue operating in the United States

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Angus King (I-Maine), Co-Chair of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission (CSC), and Marco Rubio (R-Florida) introduced bipartisan legislation to ban social media platforms like TikTok if they are owned, wholly or in part, by adversarial foreign regimes. The Averting the National Threat of Internet Surveillance, Oppressive Censorship and Influence, and Algorithmic Learning by the Chinese Communist Party Act would protect Americans from foreign spying by blocking and prohibiting any social media company in, or under the influence of, China, Russia, and several other countries of concern from operating in the United States unless they fully separate from dangerous foreign ownership.

Current social media networks that meet this criteria would be able to continue operating in the United States if they relocated or sold to a friendly nation within 30 days of the law passing.                                       

“Social media platforms have become essential parts of our daily lives. Millions of Americans depend on these networks to keep in touch with loved ones, stay up to date on news, or run their small business. We cannot allow adversarial governments to use our social media habits as a Trojan Horse into our networks,” said Senator King. “Make no mistake – every ‘private’ enterprise in China has direct ties and on-demand information-sharing requirements with the national government. The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) potential to access TikTok user data and exploit American’s private information is an unacceptable national security risk. The company must either divest from dangerous foreign ownership, or we will take the necessary steps to protect Americans from potential foreign spying and misinformation operations. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass a bipartisan bill to address this threat and hope these efforts will spur a swift sale of the company so that Americans can continue using TikTok for personal or professional purposes.”

“TikTok allows the Chinese Communist Party to access people’s private data. This is a direct threat not only to our national security interests but also to the American people,” said Senator Rubio. “I’m proud to continue to lead the bipartisan fight in Congress to ban TikTok, as well as other social media companies that are controlled by the CCP, so long as they are under dangerous foreign ownership. 

Momentum is growing to ban Chinese state-owned TikTok from operating in the United States. The app, now banned from state government devices in 30 states, is also blocked on most federal devices. As everyone from the FBI Director and FCC Commissioners to cybersecurity experts have warned, TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, is required by Beijing to make the app’s data available to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The documented cases of abuse continue to grow, including spying on American reporters and interfering in the 2022 midterm elections.

As Co-Chair of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission (CSC), and a member of the Senate Armed Services and Intelligence Committees, Senator King is recognized as one of Congress’ leading experts on cyberdefense and is a strong advocate for a forward-thinking cyberstrategy that emphasizes layered cyberdeterrence. Since it officially launched in April 2019dozens of CSC recommendations have been enacted into law, including the creation of a National Cyber Director.

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