McConnell speaks out in support of legislation that would ban TikTok, a measure now before the U.S. Senate

Published 3:26 pm Tuesday, April 9, 2024

By Tom Latek, Kentucky Today

FRANKFORT — Last year the Kentucky General Assembly enacted legislation to prohibit the use of the video app TikTok on any state-issued device. Now legislation that would institute a nationwide ban is before Congress.

Last month, the House passed a bill that would outlaw TikTok nationwide if its China-based owner doesn’t sell its stake. Lawmakers acted on concerns that the company’s current ownership structure is a national security threat.

The measure is now before the U.S. Senate, and Republican Floor Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Louisville, took to the Floor on Tuesday to speak in favor of the ban.

He noted America’s adversaries are working overtime to undermine the nation’s interests and erode the alliances that protect them, and not just overseas.

“America’s greatest strategic rival is threatening our security right here on U.S. soil, in tens of millions of American homes. I’m speaking, of course, about TikTok. Today, one hundred seventy million Americans are active users of a social media platform that the People’s Republic of China treats as a tool of surveillance and propaganda.”

McConnell told his colleagues, “TikTok officials like to insist that U.S. users’ personal information, browsing histories, keystrokes and other sensitive data are kept well out of reach of the PRC’s teams of censors and propagandists. They claim that what it shows young Americans is what they want to see, not what the PRC wants them to think. But the company’s own words shatter this fantasy. ‘Everything is seen in China’ – that’s the truth TikTok officials were willing to admit in a leaked recording from behind closed doors.”

He also pointed out that Chinese law requires that TikTok’s Beijing-based parent company coordinates closely with the PRC.

“With TikTok, we’re not talking about meddling or hijacking an American platform. In this case, PRC influence and control has been baked in from the beginning. With Beijing’s blessing, TikTok’s algorithm pours gasoline on alarming trends, from the glorification of Hamas terrorists to a particularly outrageous fad that emerged last year where young people ‘discovered’ the wisdom of Osama bin Laden!”

“Requiring the divestment of Beijing-influenced entities from TikTok would land squarely within established Constitutional precedent,” he added. “This is a matter that deserves Congress’ urgent attention. And I’ll support commonsense, bipartisan steps to take one of Beijing’s favorite tools of coercion and espionage off the table.”