Don’t Stop with TikTok

There’s a good chance China is tracking nearly half of all Americans.

Last week, the House passed a bill that would require ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok, to sell within six months or face a ban. Now the bill faces an uphill battle in the Senate.

From where I sit, Congress isn’t going far enough. The US should compel ByteDance to sell immediately or lose access to the US market. Why give our adversary half a year—half an election year—to ramp up misinformation and data gathering?

Simply put, TikTok is a tool for China to manipulate US public opinion. When you download the app on your phone, you give TikTok full access to your contact list and audio/video files, permission to read and write to your phone’s storage and install shortcuts, and so on.

You also give TikTok permission to access detailed information about your location via GPS and other apps running on your phone. Why is that necessary for posting short videos?

It’s not. And it means China can track the activity of 150 million Americans with the app. That is almost half the US population.

Anyone who believes China wouldn’t take advantage of all that data should consider that we recently found suspicious cellular modems that could potentially be used for espionage on Chinese-made cranes in US ports. Why wouldn’t China tap into our phones, too?

China plays by a different set of rules. This is hard for many Americans to grasp. But the CCP can force any business or person in China to hand over “private” information. That’s why Goldman Sachs walls off sensitive information from the top executive at its Chinese subsidiary—even sophisticated bankers with armies of lawyers are vulnerable to demands from the CCP.