Tillis leads GOP effort to end use of TikTok by congressional members

A bicameral group of Republican lawmakers led by U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) wants all members of Congress banned from using the China-based app TikTok for official communications.

“We urge you to amend the House and Senate rules to bar members of Congress from continued use of TikTok and take any other appropriate measures to mitigate the risks of this de-facto, spyware app,” wrote Sen. Tillis and 16 of his colleagues in an April 17 letter sent to leaders of the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration and the U.S. Committee on House Administration.

Sen. Tillis and the lawmakers pointed out that TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew recently testified during the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, entitled “TikTok: How Congress Can Safeguard American Data Privacy and Protect Children from Online Harms,” that all members of Congress should lead by example and immediately stop using the platform for official communications.

“Even after the March 23, 2023, hearing, in which it became blatantly clear to the public that the China-based app is mining data and potentially spying on American citizens, members of Congress continue to utilize the app to communicate with their constituents,” the lawmakers wrote. 

Calling such continued use “troublesome,” the lawmakers noted that some members “are even encouraging their constituents to use TikTok to interface with their elected representatives — especially since some of these users are minors.”

The situation warrants further action to protect the privacy of both sensitive congressional information and the personal information of their constituents, they 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,” wrote the lawmakers, who also included U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and U.S. Reps. Dusty Johnson (R-SD), Troy Balderson (R-OH), Buddy Carter (R-GA), Randy Feenstra (R-IA), and John Moolenaar (R-MI).