(LibertySociety.com) – To encourage more people to fly the friendly skies, American Airlines started offering 30 minutes of free TikTok to some of its passengers beginning in August 2021. But Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) called for a halt to the incentive, since questions continue to surround app users’ data privacy.
American Airlines and other flight companies already offer Facebook usage and other social media sites on certain flights without buying Wi-Fi. Given TikTok’s popularity, the airline also wanted to provide access to the app as one of its perks.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio is urging American Airlines to back out of its TikTok promotion.
AA is offering passengers 30 minutes of free inflight WiFi to use TikTok.
In letter to AA CEO, Sen. Rubio cites security concerns with China-backed social media app. pic.twitter.com/W0BSQDaQCq
— Greg Angel (@NewsGuyGreg) August 5, 2021
Given his worries, as well as citing national security, the senator wrote a letter encouraging the airline to stop promoting the app’s use.
Rubio is concerned that the arrangement between the airline giant and the Chinese platform will legitimize the social media company and encourage more people to use it. TikTok, owned by the Beijing-based company ByteDance, is known for its vulnerability to spying by foreign intelligence. Cybersecurity experts point to the app’s censorship of content that doesn’t “align with the Chinese Communist Party’s” views as proof of government control, as well as the platform’s past record of collecting personal information from users. A British lawsuit by a 12-year-old girl accuses the app of “mishandling children’s data,” which includes not only phone numbers and videos but their exact location, too.
If American Airlines doesn’t comply with Rubio’s plea, it could send travelers a two-fold message: that TikTok is safe, and that the company doesn’t care about kids’ safety. Since passenger safety should be a top priority for a company responsible for people’s lives, it’s doubtful those are the ideas the airline wants to convey.
Copyright 2021, LibertySociety.com