The trending TikTok ban is gaining steam on Capitol Hill where lawmakers are working on two bills to ban the app; one seeks to ban it from government devices – the other wants a total nationwide ban.
TikTok is now the country's most popular social media app. It's also potentially the most dangerous due to its connection to China. Congressional leaders seeking to ban it call the app 'digital fentanyl,' arguing it's addicting and poses a serious threat to national security.
"We understand that the Chinese government is using this app to collect data from our citizens here in this country," said South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem. "They can even access personal information from financial institutions. It's a cyber security threat we need to take seriously."
Gov. Noem is one of seven governors barring public employees from using TikTok on government devices. On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate passed the federal "No TikTok on Government Devices" bill. If it makes it to the president's desk, all government employees will be banned from using the app.
And in South Dakota, Noem said, "In fact, if a state employee does download the app of TikTok, that will be a criminal offense."
Sen. Rick Scott has championed Sen. Josh Hawley's "No TikTok on Government Devices" bill and understands it's not just government employees who are targets. He tells CBN News he's worried everyone's user data is fair game for China's playbook.
"How much do you think it's appropriate that the Chinese Communist Party should know everything about your movement, information, anything they want about you?" asked Sen. Scott. "We've got to wake up. Chinese drones, TikTok or buying any Chinese-made products. China, the government of China has decided to be our adversary. They've decided to build a military to defeat us."
The main concern is TikTok's Chinese parent company, ByteDance, which is required by the regime to make the app's data available to the Chinese Communist Party. Lawmakers are debating another bill, led by Sen. Marco Rubio, seeking a nationwide ban against TikTok.
"Companies under control of the CCP should not have unfettered access to the private data of millions of Americans that they can then use against us for espionage, foreign policy, for division," said Sen. Rubio.
Jake Denton is a policy expert with the Heritage Foundation. He fears the move might get pushback from elected officials who want to take political advantage of the app's massive reach.
"If we look back at the midterm cycle, we see everyone from Amy Klobuchar to Stacey Abrahams doing TikTok dances with influences," Denton said. "President Biden has invited countless TikTok influencers to the White House. They don't want to ban this because it's politically convenient for them during election cycles to have it at their disposal."
From a privacy standpoint, Denton says it's hard to tell if your phone could be compromised or susceptible to any China data grab. He recommends just deleting the TikTok app or possibly getting a new phone.
"Just because it's isolated on the child's device doesn't mean the parents' work materials aren't at risk," said Denton. "It's critical you remove this from your family's tech sphere. Get it out of your family's home."