January 23, 2023

Congress, TikTok, and Securing Democracy in the Digital Age

In recent weeks, Congress has asserted itself in the TikTok debate by passing legislation that bans the app from federal government devices. Another bipartisan bill, known as the ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act, would go much further by completely prohibiting TikTok from operating in the United States. With these actions, Congress is taking on more responsibility in deciding the short-form video sharing service’s future. Given the potentially massive impact of whether the app is allowed to continue operating in the U.S., Congress’s engagement and action in this matter are welcome and necessary to help steer—at a critical moment—the direction of the still-evolving U.S. technology strategy toward China.

A review of TikTok would also allow Congress to ask questions about and signal positions on some deeply important yet not often debated questions stemming from the separation of America’s tech ecosystem from China’s.

Since late 2019, TikTok has been under a secretive national security investigation conducted by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. Known as CFIUS, the executive branch committee reviews the national security implications of foreign transactions with U.S. entities and recommends how to address those concerns to the president. For example, in December 2016, President Obama, acting on CFIUS’s recommendation, prohibited a Chinese-owned company’s purchase of a U.S. manufacturer of technology used in U.S. weapons systems.

Read the full article from Lawfare.

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