NBC Is SAD the House Banned TikTok on Government Phones, Could Expand

News & Politics

TikTok is owned by a Chinese business beholden to China’s communist government and is understood to be a national security concern. But on Wednesday’s Today, NBC journalists were sad that the House had banned the app from the government-issued phones they handout to members of Congress and their staffers. The network was also concerned about bipartisan legislation that would ban the app in America.

“Well, we want to turn now to the crackdown on TikTok and growing calls to erase the video app from phones. The House of Representatives no longer allowing Congress members or staff to use TikTok on their government-issued devices,” fill-in anchor Kristen Welker announced.

She went on to muddy the waters a bit by calling the ban “just the latest move in the debate over whether TikTok is a national security risk.” Correspondent Stephanie Gosk stomped around a little too, saying, “There’s been a lot of talk about security concerns around TikTok.”

“TikTok is best known for its viral videos of everything from popular dance routines to shopping hauls. But in Washington, it’s becoming one of the most deleted apps,” she seemingly lamented at the top of her report. She also noted the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill also banned TikTok from government-issued devices handed out by the executive branch.

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Gosk would later warn that “others have proposed bipartisan legislation to ban the app altogether.” That was followed up with TikTok clips of users whining and calling it “ridiculous.” One user made the point that it could harm small businesses that marketed their products via their videos.

Noting the banning of TikTok “goes beyond the Capitol,” Gosk reported that many state governments and schools were banning it as well. “At least 16 states prohibit using TikTok on government networks and some universities are now blocking access to the app on school Wi-Fi or devices,” she said.

Seemingly sticking up for TikTok, Gosk parroted their unsupported claims of not working with the Chinese government and pushed their claims of trying to adhere to U.S.-government security demands:

GOSK: TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance has not commented on Congress’ latest actions but said in the past it does not store U.S. user data in China and does not share information with the Chinese government.

TikTok is negotiating a deal with the Justice Department to address security concerns. CEO Vanessa Pappas speaking at a congressional hearing in September.

VANESSA PAPPAS (TikTok CEO): What I can commit to is that our final agreement with the U.S. government will satisfy all national security concerns. Yes.

Despite admitting that TikTok has been in negotiations with the Justice Department for two years with no deal in sight, Gosk used company talking points to insist they have made “substantial progress.”

She concluded the segment by bemoaning on the company’s behalf: “And TikTok says it would be – now, after this agreement – held to a higher security standard than its competition.”

At no point did Gosk or anyone at NBC explain why government work phones, paid for with taxpayer money, should have TikTok on them.

This support for the alleged China information collection app was made possible because of lucrative sponsorships from Ensure and Progressive. Their contact information is linked.

The transcript is below, click “expand” to read:

NBC’s Today
December 28, 2022
7:32:56 a.m. Eastern

KRISTEN WELKER: Well, we want to turn now to the crackdown on TikTok and growing calls to erase the video app from phones. The House of Representatives no longer allowing Congress members or staff to use TikTok on their government-issued devices. And it’s just the latest move in the debate over whether TikTok is a national security risk.

Our Stephanie Gosk with what that means for you. Steph, good morning.

STEPHANIE GOSK: Kristen, good morning. There’s been a lot of talk about security concerns around TikTok. It’s owned by a Chinese company. Congress, states, and even some schools are worried. For over two years, TikTok has been negotiating with the Justice Department over security concerns but a deal still hasn’t been reached.

And now, an announcement that some members of Congress won’t be allowed to use the popular app.

[Cuts to video]

TikTok is best known for its viral videos of everything from popular dance routines to shopping hauls.

But in Washington, it’s becoming one of the most deleted apps. The House, the latest branch to announce a ban, saying House members and staffers must delete and may no longer download TikTok on their government-issued mobile devices.

NBC obtaining the memo from the House’s chief administration officer calling the app “a high risk to users due to a number of security risks.” This comes just days after Congress approved its $1.7 trillion spending bill including a requirement for executive branch agency employees to remove TikTok from their work phones.

And it goes beyond the Capitol. At least 16 states prohibit using TikTok on government networks and some universities are now blocking access to the app on school wi-fi or devices. TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance has not commented on Congress’ latest actions but said in the past it does not store U.S. user data in China and does not share information with the Chinese government.

TikTok is negotiating a deal with the Justice Department to address security concerns. CEO Vanessa Pappas speaking at a congressional hearing in September.

VANESSA PAPPAS (TikTok CEO): What I can commit to is that our final agreement with the U.S. government will satisfy all national security concerns. Yes.

GOSK: Among TikTok’s 100 million American users every month are some members of Congress using the app to connect with voters.

REP. MARK TAKANO (D-CA): I’m Congressman Mark Takano. Welcome to my very first TikTok.

GOSK: While others have proposed bipartisan legislation to ban the app all together. A move that has TikTokers up in arms.

(…)

JUNE MACKENZIE OFFI (TikTok user): For a lot of us it’s going to affect our business and even some really cool friendships that we de along the way.

[Cuts back to live]

GOSK: A spokesperson for TikTok tells NBC News that the company has made, quote, “substantial progress on its agreement to address security concerns.” And TikTok says it would be – now, after this agreement – held to a higher security standard than its competition. It’s important to note that the House’s TikTok ban does not include senators and their staff members.

WELKER: Yeah, something that’s got a lot of people talking.

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