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Georgia senator wants to ban TikTok

TikTok's CEO testified on Capitol Hill that U.S. user data is not shared with its parent company.

ATLANTA — A Georgia state senator wants to ban the popular video-sharing app TikTok.

State Sen. Jason Anavitarte (R-Dallas) announced his intention to create legislation to ban the app statewide on Wednesday.

Anavitarte is the chairman of the Senate Study Committee on the Creation of a Georgia Cybersecurity Force. He feels that TikTok is a national security threat. Anavirtarte is also the founder of Georgia's first Hispanic caucus.

"TikTok is malware produced by Communist China to spy on Americans and influence our elections," he said in a prepared statement, citing recent Forbes articles. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) recently shared similar rhetoric about the social media app.

Forbes warned specifically of the account @NewsTokss, saying the Chinese media-backed account features coverage of U.S. national and international news.

TikTok isn't operated directly by the Chinese government. 

Its parent company ByteDance is headquartered in Beijing, and under China's national intelligence law, is required to assist in intelligence gathering from its citizens and businesses, and share data with the government, according to a news release.

It is important to note that TikTok does not exist in China - ByteDance has created its own version of the app for customers in the country. TikTok's CEO recently testified on Capitol Hill in September clarifying that the company doesn't store U.S. user data in China, nor is it shared with its parent company.

Regardless, the GOP-led anti-TikTok rhetoric has become part of a nationwide movement with lawmakers taking aim at the short-form video social media app.

Anivitarte said he plans to work closely with Gov. Brian Kemp to create an executive order to ban TikTok on government-owned devices or personal devices used to access government systems, similar to what has been enacted by Republican governors in South Dakota and Maryland. Texas and South Carolina leaders recently banned the app on government devices with Wisconsin on the brink of doing the same. Nebraska was the first to block TikTok on state devices in 2020. 

“Banning TikTok via the legislative process may take some time, but Gov. Kemp can have an immediate impact on our cyber security by prohibiting TikTok in executive agencies. I look forward to working with the Governor to make this happen,” the state senator said.

   

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