A coalition of 17 lawmakers is urging Congress to prevent representatives and senators from using TikTok amid debate over legislation to enact a nationwide ban of the China-founded app.
President Biden signed a law in December 2022 passed by Congress that banned TikTok from federal government devices, but some lawmakers have continued to use the platform.
A coalition of Republican lawmakers want their colleagues to stop using TikTok and have written a letter to House and Senate committees with jurisdiction over rules and administration to change guidelines for use of the app.
Sen. Thom Tillis, North Carolina Republican, and Rep. Dan Crenshaw, Texas Republican, have spearheaded the coalition, saying they find it troublesome that their fellow lawmakers are disregarding warnings about TikTok.
“We feel this situation warrants further action to protect the privacy of both sensitive congressional information and the personal information of our constituents,” the lawmakers wrote. “To that end, we urge you to enact a change to the Senate and House rules to ban members of Congress from using TikTok for official use.”
American lawmakers have concerns that China’s policies of civil-military fusion compelling businesses to work with the communist government make Americans’ data on TikTok vulnerable via the app’s China-founded parent company ByteDance.
As an example of the behavior that irked them, the lawmakers cite colleagues who have continued to use the app following TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew’s testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee last month.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York Democrat, published her first video on the platform after the hearing with Mr. Chew and she defended TikTok against calls for new restrictions.
“The United States has never before banned a social media company from existence, from operating in our borders, and this is an app that has over 150 million Americans on it,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said in the video published to her @aocinthehouse account.
Rep. Jamaal Bowman, New York Democrat, has also been a staunch advocate for TikTok. Mr. Bowman told MSNBC’s Jen Psaki, a former White House press secretary, that he prefers the China-founded app over American social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
“I get much less hate and vitriol on TikTok,” Mr. Bowman said in an MSNBC interview that aired Sunday. “It’s more enjoyable to engage with. It’s more educational, and it feels to me like they’re just a better product.”
Some Republicans also have expressed opposition to banning TikTok. For example, Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, objected to an effort to pass a nationwide ban of TikTok last month from Sen. Josh Hawley, Missouri Republican.
TikTok did not immediately respond to request for comment.