WSJ Editorial Board: Tackling the TikTok Threat

Mar 12, 2024
Big Tech

“Break up with the Chinese Communist Party, or break up with the U.S.”

The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board is out with a new piece on why Congress must pass H.R. 7521, the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, which protects Americans from the national security threats posed by CCP-controlled TikTok. Check out excerpts and highlights below: 

3.12.24 WSJ.pngThe House on Wednesday is expected to vote on a bill that would give popular social-media app TikTok an ultimatum: Break up with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), or break up with the U.S. It didn’t need to come to this, but Beijing and TikTok’s Chinese-owner ByteDance left Washington with no choice.


Donald Trump tried in 2020 to force ByteDance to divest TikTok, but his executive order was blocked in court, partly because the President lacked clear authority from Congress. Legislation by Wisconsin Republican Mike Gallagher and Illinois Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi aims to overcome the legal obstacles. 

Their bill would ban TikTok from app stores and web-hosting services in the U.S. if the company doesn’t divest from ByteDance. It also establishes a process by which the President can prohibit other social-media apps that are “controlled by a foreign adversary.” The bill is narrowly tailored while giving the President tools to combat future threats. 

Banning TikTok should be a last resort, but ByteDance and Beijing have demonstrated that they can’t be trusted. Reams of evidence show how the Chinese government can use the platform for cyber-espionage and political influence campaigns in the U.S. 


TikTok’s other major security risk is cyber-espionage. The app vacuums up sensitive American user information, including searches, browsing histories and locations. This data can and does flow back to China. “Everything is seen in China,” a TikTok official said in a leaked internal recording reported by Buzzfeed. 

ByteDance employees tried to uncover internal leakers by spying on American journalists. After this surveillance was reported, ByteDance blamed “misconduct of certain individuals” who were no longer employed. But there’s nothing to stop CCP puppets in ByteDance back-offices from spying on Americans. 


Chinese law requires ByteDance to comply with Beijing’s surveillance demands. This is why there’s no way to mitigate TikTok’s security risks besides a forced divestment. U.S. investors have expressed interest in buying TikTok, though a Chinese government official last year said it would block a sale. If TikTok is banned, users can blame Beijing. 


In any case, the House bill doesn’t restrict First Amendment rights. It regulates national security. It also has ample precedent since U.S. law restricts foreign ownership of broadcast stations. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States forced the Chinese owners of Grindr, the gay dating app, to give up control of the company. 

China has blocked U.S. social-media companies that don’t comply with its censorship regime, and the House bill would prevent Beijing from applying its political speech controls and surveillance in the U.S. Despite America’s political divisions, this ought to be a shared goal. 

CLICK HERE to read the full piece from the WSJ Editorial Board. 

CLICK HERE to learn more about H.R. 7521.

CLICK HERE to read what experts and top voices are saying.