On Tuesday December 27th, the Chief Administrative Officer of the US House of Representatives sent a notice to all Congressmen and women informing them that TikTok was being banished from all phones provided to them or to their staff by the government. But this was just the latest tip of a slow-motion landslide.

In January, 2020, TikTok was purged from government issued phones by the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department. Six months later, TikTok was banned by the Department of Defense. And in 2020, President Donald Trump tried to make TikTok illegal In the United States, but failed.

Then on December 13,th just two weeks ago, three Senators, including two who are normally at each other’s throats—Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi –introduced a bill to ban TikTok from operating in the United States.

But Rubio’s and Krishnamoorthi’s senate bill would also go a giant step farther. It would outlaw any social media companies “in or under the influence of China, Russia” or “several other foreign countries of concern.”

Finally on December 22nd, a massive $1.7 trillion Omnibus spending bill was passed. The bill repeated that TikTok is outlawed on Federal government phones.

Why this intense focus on TikTok? TikTok is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance. Chinese law orders all of China’s companies from infant baby formula manufacturers to airlines to make every one of their assets available for spying or military use at any time.

In other words, Chinese law says that all ordinary, everyday parts of the Chinese economy are weapons of the military and spying arms of the Chinese Communist Party. Even the most harmless Chinese business has to do double duty for war-making whenever it’s commanded.

For example, China has over 196 ferries carting automobiles and passengers across its waterways. But those flat-bottomed ships are considered part of China’s military machine. Two months ago, the ferries were used to “launch assault craft” in “mass amphibious invasion” drills. Those drills had one very specific purpose in mind. Carrying Chinese troops and tanks on an invasion of Taiwan.

But this dual use does not apply only to hardware. It applies to software. For example, let’s go back to the example of a Chinese attack on Taiwan. If Beijing was about to mount an assault, China’s dual-use law means that the Chinese military could track the smartphones of American troops to make sure the attack was a surprise. How?

If American soldiers and sailors were carrying their smart phones and if those phones had TikTok, the Chinese could use TikTok to reveal where every American soldier or sailor was. TikTok could also show whether the Americans were assembled and traveling toward Taiwan. And TikTok would help the Chinese pinpoint exactly where to aim their weapons to wipe us out.

Meanwhile, the Chinese and their allies the Russians have spent almost ten years developing non-violent ways to wage cyber war against us. They’ve been turning our heads with disinformation, and propaganda. Their goal includes much more than just winning us over to their side. They’ve been out to sow chaos by turning us against each other.

Despite all that, there are some huge disadvantages to ridding America of TikTok. Yes, I said disadvantages. TikTok is the hottest app in the world today. If we don’t have a chance to play with it, the odds are very good we won’t be able to come up with the killer app that can surpass it in the market place.

What’s more, in an era of next technology warfare, you are only as good as the computer toys you played with when you were young. Take TikTok away from us, and competing nations may well be able to race way past us in electronic skills, outpacing our companies and our economy, not just our military.



Howard Bloom has been called the Einstein, Newton, and Freud of the 21st century by Britain’s Channel 4 TV. One of his seven books–Global Brain—was the subject of a symposium thrown by the Office of the Secretary of Defense including representatives from the State Department, the Energy Department, DARPA, IBM, and MIT. His work has been published in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Wired, Psychology Today, and the Scientific American. He does news commentary at 1:06 am et every Wednesday night on 545 radio stations on Coast to Coast AM. For more, see http://howardbloom.institute.

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