It appears China-based social media app TikTok has found its first congressional supporter.
Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) is set to defend the app in a Wednesday press conference alongside numerous TikTok content creators.
In December, lawmakers introduced legislation to ban TikTok in the United States.
From NBC News:
Trending: What Was In Those Bush Sr. Funeral Envelopes? The “First Arrest” To Shock The World Revealed?
A group of lawmakers in the House and Senate introduced legislation Tuesday that would ban TikTok in the U.S., following warnings from the FBI director and cybersecurity experts who have said China could use the social media platform for spying.
The bill would “protect Americans by blocking and prohibiting all transactions from any social media company in, or under the influence of, China, Russia, and several other foreign countries of concern,” the lawmakers said in a news release.
The legislation is sponsored by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., with a companion measure introduced in the House by Reps. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., and Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill. The lawmakers said the bill aims to protect Americans from foreign adversaries who might use certain social media to surveil Americans, learn sensitive data about them, and spread influence campaigns or propaganda.
Under the measure, the president could impose sanctions on TikTok and other social media companies to prevent commercial operation in the U.S.
Bowman said the legislation to ban TikTok is “fearmongering.”
“This is a space where these creators have found a platform to share their ideas, their inspirations, their thoughts, their voices with the rest of the country and the rest of the world. And why do we want to take that away?” Bowman said.
“There are many apps on our phones right now that are Chinese apps. And so the idea that, ‘Oh, TikTok is the boogeyman’ — it’s just part of a political fearmongering that’s happening,” he added.
“Banning TikTok? I mean, are you trying to engage young voters or not? What are we doing here?” said Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., a former middle school principal. “They will absolutely stay at home. There’s no question about that.”
— Alex Seitz-Wald (@aseitzwald) March 22, 2023
Squad Democrat Jamaal Bowman has emerged as the first congressional ally of TikTok.
But only months back, upon the House Chief Admin. Office circulating a memo raising concerns about TikTok's national security and privacy concerns, Bowman pledged to pause usage of the app . . . pic.twitter.com/otHJruajn7
— Gabe Kaminsky (@gekaminsky) March 22, 2023
NBC News reported:
He compared criticism of TikTok to Republican “fearmongering” about an “open border” and the debt limit, as well as “xenophobia around China.”
“I haven’t seen any hard evidence that TikTok is committing some form of espionage,” he said. “What I’ve heard is speculation. And what I’ve heard is innuendo.”
The remarks make Bowman the most prominent ally of TikTok on Capitol Hill. And they come just days before TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is scheduled to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in what is likely to be a contentious hearing on Thursday morning. Chew will make his first appearance on Capitol Hill as the company has fallen behind the eight-ball in Washington and scrambles to stave off a potential ban.
Critics in both political parties say the app presents risks to national security and data privacy as it is effectively controlled by the Chinese government, at a time of rising global tensions between the U.S. and China.
Bowman and the TikTok users will be joined at the press conference by Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., whose office said he plans to attend.
Bowman addressed statements made by Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), chair of the Intelligence Committee, who told reporters on Monday that TikTok can be used for propaganda and manipulation by China. Bowman felt the same scrutiny should be applied to Facebook and cited the supposed Russian “meddling” in the 2016 election.
“That could totally happen. Let’s shut down Facebook and force Mark Zuckerberg to create a new platform,” said Bowman. “When we look at American companies like Facebook looking the other way in 2016 when Russia colluded to impact our election — Facebook is a national security risk. We’re not talking about a ban on Facebook.”
Bowman also said that Biden would lose an outlet to connect with young voters.
“I think the more we learn, the more you’ll see people stand up and defend TikTok,” he said. “Let me say this: If information comes out that clearly shows TikTok as a problem, I will say I was wrong. I have no problem saying that. I just haven’t seen that information as of yet.”
Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said earlier this month that he opposes a Republican bill that would grant the president power to ban the Chinese social media app TikTok.
Join the conversation!
Please share your thoughts about this article below. We value your opinions, and would love to see you add to the discussion!