Top U.S. House Democrat Opposes Bill to Ban TikTok

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Tuesday he opposes a Republican bill that would grant the president power to ban the Chinese social media app TikTok.

Republican committee chair Michael McCaul said too many Americans do not recognize TikTok as a national security threat during a debate on the measure.

“Many Americans do not realize one of the greatest surveillance efforts from (China) has been silently gathering personal data in their pockets,” McCaul said. “TikTok is a national security threat … It is time to act.”

Meeks said he opposed the legislation, asserting it would “damage our allegiances across the globe, bring more companies into China’s sphere, destroy jobs here in the United States and undercut core American values of free speech and free enterprise,” according to Reuters.

Meeks further accused the bill of being “dangerously overbroad” and would U.S. sanctions on Korean and Taiwanese “companies that supply Chinese companies with semiconductor chips and other equipment.”

“As it is right now, it’s a [Republican] party-line bill. It is overly broad. We didn’t have a chance to discuss it at all” Meeks told Axios. “There were some suggestions that were made [by my staff] that were … summarily dismissed.”

Meeks felt the problem of TikTok should be solved with negotiations being conducted by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) and the Byte-dance-owned app.

TikTok defended itself, saying it has spent over $1.5 billion on data security to rebuff spying allegations.

“It would be unfortunate if the House Foreign Affairs Committee were to censor millions of Americans, and do so based not on actual intelligence, but on a basic misunderstanding of our corporate structure,” TikTok outlined.

Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), another Democrat on Foreign Affairs, also told Axios, “Not well-written, not well thought out and terrible overreach. I think there won’t be any [Democratic votes for it].”