Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA.) is creating an alternative approach to tackling national security risks posed by the communist Chinese government-tied TikTok platform. But will it go far enough?
Cantwell, who is chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, claimed after a committee meeting that giving the executive branch more power to keep Chinese Communist Party-tied TikTok in check while creating more oversight mechanisms would alleviate national security concerns. “‘You want to give people tools that they can use and you want to set parameters that give somebody the oversight,’” Cantwell told reporters of her proposal.
Cantwell’s plan is a bit different than the Restrict Act, a proposal led by Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) that would create a more direct route to banning the platform, but Canwell claimed the bill “needs work.” Warner’s office reportedly claimed to “welcome” the opportunity to create a new plan.
“‘Senator Warner welcomes the opportunity to work with the leadership of the Senate Commerce Committee to address threats from foreign-based technology,’” Warner spokeswoman Rachel Cohen told The Post in an email.
“This is all just a ruse to cover for President Joe Biden’s failure to do the right thing on TikTok,” said MRC Free Speech America Vice President Dan Schneider. “The U.S. Constitution and congressional authorization already give Joe Biden the authority he needs to ban TikTok for national security reasons, but Cantwell and the other Democrats know that TikTok is the centerpiece of Biden’s reelection strategy.”
According to The Post, the Cantwell bill would urge the White House to “undertake a rulemaking process to protect United States data linked to sensitive populations that could be exploited by foreign adversaries” and will allow the U.S. government “to identify, assess, and mitigate risks to the information and communications technology and services supply chain in the United States.”
Cantwell’s proposal is just the latest effort from U.S. legislators to resolve the TikTok data security problem, but experts have warned that oversight alone won’t be enough.
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr advocated for such a TikTok ban in March when he expressed approval of states restricting the app on state government devices. “The actions that almost 30 states have taken is a very good step in the right direction,” he told MRC Free Speech America. “They’re banning TikTok from state government devices. At the end of the day, though, we have to go much further than that, which is to address TikTok not just on government devices, which we’ve done on the federal level now, and … at the state level, but we need to address this nationwide, for everybody not just government devices.”
National security experts have warned that TikTok poses a threat to national security. “[TikTok is] very much authentically part of a foreign state that has shown itself and declared itself to use networks like this both to gather [data] and to influence,” former member of the Defense Intelligence Community Scott Kieff exclusively told MRC Free Speech America in March.
The video streaming app also has a sordid history of bias and censorship. In August 2022, MRC Free Speech America found that TikTok “permanently banned” 11 pro-free speech organizations in a move that eerily mirrors the anti-free speech stances of the Chinese Communist Party.
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