U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat from Colorado, joined the chorus Thursday of voices calling for a ban on the TikTok app.
Use of the short-video app created by a Chinese company is already banned in North Carolina on any devices owned by the state or those given to state employees for their work. The governor’s office says cybersecurity professionals have identified security risks with it.
Those concerns counter the app’s popularity. It is used by 2/3 of American teens and is the second-most popular app worldwide, with more than 1 billion downloads just in 2022.
Robyn Caplan, a visiting fellow at the Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy, said, “When we carry these phones around every day, we are sharing data — what we are doing, who we are with.
Caplan was a featured speaker at an event Thursday where experts and visiting professors talked about the risks the app poses and if a ban on the app is even possible.
There has long been bipartisan concern in Washington, D.C., that Beijing would use legal and regulatory power to capture user data to try to push pro-China narratives or even misinformation.
Phil Napoli, another Duke professor who is director of the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy, said it may be too late.
“In the U.S., our model of digital platform regulation has been to do nothing.
“It would be nice if there were restrictions in place before these platforms were prominent. Can you put the horse back in the barn?”
ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, is in negotiations with the U.S. government in an effort to try to avoid an outright ban, and the CEO of the company is expected to testify before Congress in March about privacy concerns.