The Senate on Wednesday passed legislation to ban TikTok from US government devices, in an effort to limit perceived information security risks stemming from the social media app.
The unanimous consent vote approved the No TikTok on Government Devices Act, a bill drafted by Republican Senator from Missouri Josh Hawley.
The move marks the latest step by lawmakers against the short-form video app that has become popular with more than a billion users worldwide. US officials are concerned that TikTok user data could end up in the hands of the Chinese government due to that country’s influence over TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance.
A companion bill was introduced in the House last year by Colorado Republican Representative Ken Buck. It still needs to be approved by members of the House Oversight Committee.
“Once again, Senator Hawley has moved forward with legislation to ban TikTok on government devices, a proposal that does nothing to advance the national security interests of the United States,” a spokesperson said. TikTok in a statement. “We hope that instead of continuing down this path, he will urge the administration to move forward on a deal that would actually address his concerns.”
The latest legislative action comes as TikTok and the US government brokered a deal that could allow the app to continue serving US users. There have been years of closed-door talks between TikTok and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, as well as recent reports of delays in negotiations.
On Tuesday, U.S. lawmakers led by Republican Florida Senator Marco Rubio introduced a bill to ban TikTok in the U.S. more broadly, as well as other apps based in or under the “substantial influence” of TikTok. countries considered foreign adversaries, including China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela.
In the past two weeks, at least seven states have said they will ban public employees from using the app on government devices, including Alabama, Maryland, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Dakota South, Utah and Texas. (Another state, Nebraska, banned TikTok from public devices in 2020.)
Some US government agencies have independently taken steps to limit the use of TikTok among their employees. Already, the US military, State Department and Department of Homeland Security have restricted the app to government-owned devices. But Wednesday’s bill would apply to the entire federal workforce.