Mar 20, 2023 - Business

Colorado lawmakers and Biden want Tik Tok ban, but not Gov. Polis

Illustration of an anvil swaying back and forth above the Tik Tok app icon

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

Two Colorado lawmakers are pushing for a ban of the TikTok app — part of a broader U.S. crackdown on the popular Chinese-linked social media platform.

Driving the news: The Biden administration threatened this month to block the app if parent company ByteDance doesn't sell its stake in the U.S. version.

  • The move comes after U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-Windsor) introduced a bill in January to prohibit ByteDance from making transactions in TikTok, an escalation of his bill approved last year to prohibit the app on government devices.
  • U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, also is concerned about Chinese authorities being able to access data collected by TikTok and called on Google and Apple in February to remove the app from their stores.

Why it matters: TikTok has gained over 100 million U.S. users and banning it would have an immediate impact on millions of everyday Americans, Axios' Sara Fischer and Ashley Gold write. It also would mark a significant escalation of tensions between China and the U.S.

Of note: Denver announced it would ban the app from government devices in February.

The intrigue: Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, is not part of the push. In fact, he's an unapologetic TikTok user.

  • Four state lawmakers pressed him on the issue, sending a letter in March expressing security concerns, conservative website Campfire Colorado reports. More than 20 states have banned the app on government devices.
  • Polis declined to answer questions from Axios Denver or respond to lawmakers about whether he's concerned about the app's connections to the Chinese Communist Party, and whether it should be allowed on state government devices.

What he's saying: In a statement, Polis spokesperson Conor Cahill told Axios Denver the state allows social media apps like TikTok and Twitter only "for legitimate state purposes like communications outreach."

The other side: TikTok argues divesting from the U.S. app would not address security concerns and suggested the attention is political theater.

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