STORY: The hugely popular Chinese-owned app TikTok has long been at the center of controversy for being a potential national security risk – and now a U.S. Senator is seeking to ban it from the country’s two largest app stores.
Democrat Michael Bennet, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, on Thursday sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Alphabet Chief Executive Sundar Pichai saying TikTok should be removed from both the Apple and Google Play app stores.
Congress has already banned TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, from federal government devices.
The social media app, which showcases short videos, has come under increasing criticism because of concern that China's government could use it to harvest data on Americans or to advance Chinese interests.
In his letter to Cook and Pichai, Sen. Bennet wrote (quote), “No company subject to CCP (Chinese Communist Party) dictates should have the power to accumulate such extensive data on the American people or curate content to nearly a third of our population…. Given these risks, I urge you to remove TikTok from your respective app stores immediately."
Prior to Bennet's letter, Republicans have largely led the charge on TikTok and its potential national security concerns, although Democratic Senator Dick Durbin previously urged Americans to stop using the app.
In the U.S. House of Representatives, which is now in Republican hands, the Foreign Affairs Committee plans to hold a vote this month on a bill aimed at blocking TikTok's use in the U.S.
In 2020, then-President Donald Trump attempted to block new users from downloading TikTok, but the move was rebuffed by the courts.
For its part, the company says that China's government cannot access the personal data of U.S. citizens or manipulate the app's content.