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Marco Rubio Restarts Fight to Ban TikTok

Appearing for an interview on CBS News’s “Face the Nation” with host Margaret Brennan, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), the Ranking Member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, called for Tik Tok to be banned in the United States, telling Brennan, after being asked if he wanted to ban China from investing in America:

“Well, I think there’s certain invest- investments where there’s no way we can protect the country from doing it. You- we’re gonna go back to TikTok, people say, you know, ‘Why do we care about what some 16-year-olds are doing?’

“I don’t think the threat is that some 16-year-old likes these cool videos that are on there, which I admit are- are attractive, obviously, because the artificial intelligence makes it so.

“It’s the massive amount of data that they’re collecting, not on one 16-year-old, not on a thousand 16 year-olds, but on millions and millions of Americans that give them commercial advantages, potentially the advantage of being able to shape American public opinion in a time of crisis, that- that just give them an extraordinary insights that allow them to steer the conversation in this country in any direction they want. And- and these are long-term threats that are extraordinary to the country in- in- in the 21st century.”

He also said that the issue goes beyond data, telling Brennan:

“But it’s beyond the data protections. It’s the ability to- somebody- just let me give you an example, right? What is the Chinese narrative on Taiwan, that it’s part of China, that this is a fake claim, and so forth. And they understand that in this republic, in order for the United States to live up to its commitments to Taiwan, you need to have public support for that, right? Because of the potential high costs to pay for the U.S. to keep its commitments with regards to Taiwan.

“So if they dedicate years and years to influencing the American audiences through the use of TikTok: the data, and their ability to use artificial intelligence and their algorithms to guide it, to undermine our narrative, and to increase their narrative; we may very well reach a point where there is a Taiwan contingency, and millions and millions of Americans have already bought into years and years of influence from the Chinese.

“Now- in this country, people have a right to say those things. But to- but we were- think about how fired up everybody was over the fact that Russian trolls and bots were buying ads on Facebook during 2016. This goes exponentially greater than that, in terms of its level of influence…”

Continuing, Rubio went on to add that anti-TikTok legislation is bipartisan, as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are realizing the extent of the threat posed by giving China access to so much American data. In his words:

It’s bipartisan, bicameral. Some people are not willing to go that far, but I certainly think it’s the right place to be. But in the end, we got to do something about it, whether it’s a ban or something else.

“I honestly don’t know, I- as I sit here with you today, I don’t know how our national security interests and the operation of TikTok in this country, as long as it’s owned by ByteDance, can coexist.

Watch Rubio here:

Adding credence to Senator Rubio’s claim that anti-TikTok legislation is bipartisan is that Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) also argued that TikTok needs to be dealt with, saying:

“Let’s- let’s look- let me build on what Marco just said. And I think again, maybe we were all a little bit slow to recognize the challenge here. It is both a data collection entity. Now it may not collect as much data as some of our American platforms. But it is very much, at the end of the day, still responsible to the Communist Party. But think about this, Margaret.

“138 million users in America use TikTok on a regular basis, average about 90 minutes a day. I’m sure your network would love to have 138 million Americans spending 90 minutes a day on your network. And I’m not saying that the TikTok or Communist Party is driving the- the videos you see. But the- the fact is, the algorithms that determine what you see on TikTok, is determined out of Beijing by China.

“And the proof is, if you look at what Chinese kids are seeing on their version of TikTok, which emphasizes science and engineering, versus what our kids and kids around the world are seeing, it is dramatically different. So both from a data collection, and from frankly, a propaganda tool, it is of huge concern. How we go at this systemically is what- you know- we’re both maybe, at slightly different ways to get there. But I think making sure we educate our fellow Americans and the rest of our colleagues on this challenge is really important.”

He also said, during the interview “Marco and I have the same goals. I may have a slightly different approach. I’m going to sit down and see how we can work through this. But I’ve been hearing it, I’ve been trying to give the Biden administration, now more than two years, to see, is there a technical solution here? And I’d be willing to take a look at it. The Biden administration has not announced that. And I think the problem is, this is technically extraordinarily hard to do. TikTok has repeatedly said, ‘Oh, Americans’ data, not being seen in China.’ And repeatedly, we’ve seen Chinese engineers having access to American data. So how you fully wall that off, but bigger problem to me is, if you are actually still writing the algorithms in Beijing that determine what videos you see, how and if those algorithms on a regular basis get updated, how you put any kind of wall in there, even if there is an American company in between, that will give us the that kind of protection so that we don’t have this kind of manipulation, for example, on the issue like Taiwan.”

By: Will Tanner. Follow me on Twitter @Will_Tanner_1




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