On Monday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 258, a law that prohibits the use of the Chinese-owned social media platform TikTok The legislation is part of a larger package of bills meant to restrict the influence of “hostile countries” such as China, Iran, Russia, Venezuela, Cuba, Syria, and North Korea.
SB 264 is even more restrictive, preventing Chinese companies and their agents from buying land within ten miles of military bases, agricultural land, and critical state infrastructure. It also prevents universities in the state from reaching agreements or receiving funds from Chinese companies.
The move follows an emergency regulation passed last month by the Board of Governors of Florida’s public universities to ban TikTok, as well as WeChat, Tencent QQ, VKontakte, and Kaspersky.
“We believe that any utility that these applications have is clearly outweighed by the benefit that the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) derives from data mining and being able to collect information,” said DeSantis during a press conference following the bill signing in the city of Brooksville.
The legislation comes amid mounting scrutiny of Chinese-owned companies, especially with regards to the security of user data. The US government has accused Chinese companies of using their platforms to spy on American citizens, prompting the US Senate to pass a bill last month that would ban government employees from using TikTok.
DeSantis has positioned himself as a strong opponent of China’s influence, and many have speculated that he may be positioning himself for a run for the US presidency in 2024. His signing of the bill is yet another signal of his intent to lead the charge in limiting Chinese control in the West.