AOC Joins TikTok to Fight Against a Potential Ban
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) recently posted her first-ever video to TikTok in which she voiced support for the Chinese-owned social-media platform in the face of a potential U.S. ban.
“This is not only my first TikTok, but it is a TikTok about TikTok,” Ocasio-Cortez said in her introduction, before saying she does not believe TikTok should be banned.
“I think it’s important to discuss how unprecedented of a move this would be. The United States has never before banned a social media company from existence, from operating in our borders,” the progressive “Squad” member said. “And this is an app that has over 150 million Americans on it.
Banning TikTok isn’t the solution to data privacy concerns. Instead, Congress needs to focus on regulating social media companies’ unchecked habit of collecting user data without their consent. pic.twitter.com/DASSeTeMCT
— Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@RepAOC) March 25, 2023
The New York Democrat’s video on Saturday came two days after TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew appeared before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle espousing a healthy dose of skepticism that TikTok would protect U.S. data and American users from the Chinese Communist Party, as the CEO claimed.
TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, is China-based, opening concerns that it would be required to comply with Chinese laws requiring companies to provide the CCP with access to user data and other proprietary information.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) last week ordered the Chinese owners of TikTok to sell their stake in the company or face a potential U.S. ban. Sixty-percent of ByteDance is owned by international investors, 20 percent is owned by employees and 20 percent is owned by its founders who carry disproportionate voting rights.
Meanwhile, the Justice Department is reportedly investigating TikTok over allegations that it has been spying on American citizens, including several tech journalists.
The DOJ’s criminal division, the FBI and the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia opened the investigation late last year after ByteDance acknowledged that it had inappropriately obtained the data of U.S. TikTok users, including two reporters, Forbes reported.
Emily Baker-White, a Forbes journalist who said ByteDance used her TikTok account to track her location in an effort to find her sources, reported Thursday that the FBI and DOJ are investigating the situation.
ByteDance admitted to the surveillance after an internal investigation, which led to the firing of Chris Lepitak, the employee who oversaw the team responsible for the surveillance.
Nonetheless, Ocasio-Cortez spoke out against a ban in her recent TikTok that had received more than 3 million views as of Sunday.
“They say because of this egregious amount of data harvesting, we should ban this app. However, that doesn’t really address the core of the issue,” Ocasio-Cortez said, adding that other social media platforms also collect “troves of deeply personal data.”
“In fact, the United States is one of the only developed nations in then world that has no significant data or privacy protection laws on the books,” she said.
She went on to add that the solution is “not to ban an individual company — but to actually protect Americans from this kind of egregious data harvesting that companies can do without your significant ability to say no.”
Ocasio-Cortez said typically when the U.S. is “proposing a very major move that has something to do with significant risk to national security” Congress would receive a classified briefing, which she said has not happened in this case.
“So why would we be proposing a ban regarding such a signifiant issue without being included on this at all? It just doesn’t feel right to me,” she said.