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Rubio in 2019: Communist China will use TikTok against America 

Apr 22, 2024 | Featured, Press Releases

In 2019, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) called for a Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) review of TikTok. Almost five years and dozens of documented abuses later, a bill to force China-based ByteDance to divest TikTok is poised to become law.

  • “For years, we’ve allowed the Chinese Communist Party to control one of the most popular apps in America. That was dangerously shortsighted, but thankfully we are waking up to the threat China-controlled companies pose to America. We must move more quickly in the future when we encounter similar threats, because China won’t give up. There will be lawsuits, new apps, and new plots from Beijing.” — Senator Rubio

A timeline of Rubio’s major actions on TikTok is below:

October 2019. Rubio Requests CFIUS Review of TikTok After Reports of Chinese Censorship

  • “I write to express concern with regard to Chinese influence operations, including by the social media network, TikTok, a short-video app owned by the Chinese backed, ByteDance.… [T]he government of China is using these apps to advance their foreign policy and globally suppress freedom of speech, expression, and other freedoms that we as Americans so deeply cherish. Given the Chinese Government and Communist Party efforts to block content and undermine U.S. values, I urge that CFIUS launch a full and thorough national security review….”

August 2020. Rubio Welcomes President’s Actions to Address National Security Threat Posed by China’s TikTok, WeChat

  • “The danger posed by Chinese-owned applications like TikTok and WeChat is that the Chinese Communist Party can force these companies to turn over Americans’ user data the company collects and manipulate what users see or don’t see.” 

September 2020. Rubio, Colleagues Underscore Significant Concerns Regarding Oracle’s TikTok Deal

  • “Any deal between an American company and ByteDance must ensure that TikTok’s U.S. operations, data, and algorithms are entirely outside the control of ByteDance or any Chinese-state directed actors, including any entity that can be compelled by Chinese law to turn over or access U.S. consumer data.”

April 2021. Rubio Joins Hawley, Scott in Introducing Legislation to Ban TikTok from Government Devices

  • “TikTok poses a potential threat to personal privacy and our national security interests. There is absolutely no reason why this application, which Beijing can use to advance its malign foreign policy initiatives, should be utilized on federal devices. In its current form, this platform is not safe.”

December 2022. Rubio, Gallagher Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Ban TikTok

  • “The federal government has yet to take a single meaningful action to protect American users from the threat of TikTok. This isn’t about creative videos — this is about an app that is collecting data on tens of millions of American children and adults every day. We know it’s used to manipulate feeds and influence elections. We know it answers to the People’s Republic of China. There is no more time to waste on meaningless negotiations with a CCP-puppet company. It is time to ban Beijing-controlled TikTok for good.”

February 2023. Momentum Grows to Ban Chinese-Owned TikTok, as Rubio and King Reintroduce Bipartisan Bill

  • “TikTok allows the Chinese Communist Party to access people’s private data. This is a direct threat not only to our national security interests but also to the American people. I’m proud to continue to lead the bipartisan fight in Congress to ban TikTok, as well as other social media companies that are controlled by the CCP, so long as they are under dangerous foreign ownership.”

June 2023. Rubio Calls for DOJ Investigation Into TikTok CEO Committing Perjury

  • “This revelation further underscores the fact that TikTok is a powerful tool of espionage and influence for the CCP and should be banned.  Chew should be held accountable for making false statements about material facts related to TikTok’s operation, as he appears to have done in this case.”

March 2024. FBI Director Affirms Danger of TikTok at Worldwide Threats Hearing

  • RUBIO: The only way that algorithm works is if that Chinese company has access to the data being generated by TikTok. The owner of the algorithm, ByteDance, has to have access. So, it doesn’t matter where the data is stored. Ultimately, they have to have access to it in order to make the algorithm work. Correct?
  • WRAY: Right. The key point is that the parent company is, for all intents and purposes, beholden to the CCP.

March 2024. Rubio, Warner Urge Senate Action to Protect Americans from TikTok

  • “We are united in our concern about the national security threat posed by TikTok – a platform with enormous power to influence and divide Americans whose parent company ByteDance remains legally required to do the bidding of the Chinese Communist Party. We were encouraged by today’s strong bipartisan vote in the House of Representatives, and look forward to working together to get this bill passed through the Senate and signed into law.”