During the coronavirus crisis, Americans have increasingly turned to technology for work, school, keeping in touch with friends and loved ones, and entertainment. Staying at home, we improvised and took advantage of the video chats and conference calls that connected us to the outside world.
At the same time, droves of young Americans found virtual community and amusement on TikTok, a popular video sharing platform. And, contrary to what our kids may believe, it is not a safe space.
Videos uploaded by American children and teenagers, which can range from seemingly-benign dance routines to harmful depictions of violence or worse, are stored on TikTok’s servers deep within communist China – along with every TikTok user’s personal information. Owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, TikTok is a shameless front for data harvesting on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
If you’re concerned about TikTok’s influence and encroachment on the American people, you’re not alone.
Recently, President Donald Trump and national security leaders such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have indicated that they will not allow TikTok to continue pocketing the private data of American citizens.
Congress also is taking action. On the China Task Force, we have been taking on the CCP and exposing TikTok’s efforts to mine Americans’ data and edge out competition in the free market. We know that the CCP’s end goal is to limit free speech and the flow of information in America and across the world.
Our nation simply cannot allow this trajectory to continue. Ending TikTok’s influence in the United States would be a solid step in the right direction, but this platform is just the beginning of our problems. For too long, the Chinese communist government has sought to exert influence in the world by gaining dominance in the global telecommunications network.
In addition to TikTok’s parent company ByteDance, the CCP uses pawns such as Huawei and ZTE to gain control over next-generation technology including artificial intelligence, semiconductor production, quantum computing, and 5G.
Enabled by years of manipulative practices, including cheating and even outright theft, the Chinese government is poised to achieve global dominance in the technology and telecommunications sectors – with the ultimate goal of controlling critical market segments and weaponizing global supply chains for medical equipment, weapons, and other critical electronics.
In the 21st century, America cannot allow China to win the race to next-generation technology, and we on the China Task Force are leading Congress’ efforts in this pursuit.
Countering China’s overreach into our technology requires a comprehensive approach. To be successful, we must equip young Americans with the skills and resources they need to once again lead in innovation. Additionally, we must move the manufacturing of our technology away from China.
As a solution, I introduced legislation that seeks to end America’s dependence on China for the rare earth elements and other minerals – which are used to manufacture medical supplies, defense technology, and high-tech products – by establishing a supply chain for these resources in the United States. Instead of relying on China for the materials needed to make smart phones and other devices that we use every day, we should be utilizing the resources that we have here at home. In Pennsylvania, we have the dedicated skilled workforce and the rich stores of minerals needed to move the supply chain away from the hostile Chinese government – and create jobs in our community.
Given Americans’ ever-increasing dependence on technology, it’s more important than ever that we guard against cyberattacks and protect our country from foreign interference. As our nation seeks to combat the CCP, we know that there’s a long road ahead – but this is the time to make a difference.
Each parent’s first step should be removing the spies from our children’s pockets by deleting TikTok to protect their privacy – and that’s just the beginning. Beyond banning TikTok, we must take steps today to limit the Chinese government’s attempts to gain dominance tomorrow.
As a nation, we cannot afford to fall behind and endanger our national security. On the China Task Force, we are working to protect you and your data from the Chinese communist government.
To win this fight, the China Task Force is leading the way to correct course and ensure that Americans are never beholden to the CCP.