US Senate passes bill banning federal employees from using TikTok on government-owned devices

WASHINGTON: United States Senate Wednesday night orally passed a bill to ban federal employees from using a Chinese-owned short-video sharing app ICT Tac on government-owned devices.
The bill still needs to be approved by the US House of Representatives before being submitted to President Joe Biden for approval. The House of Representatives is expected to pass the Senate bill before the end of the current session of Congress, scheduled for next week.
The vote is the latest move by US lawmakers to crack down on Chinese companies amid national security fears that Beijing could use them to spy on Americans.
The Senate action comes after North Dakota and Iowa this week joined a growing number of US states in banning ByteDance-owned TikTok from state-owned devices over concerns the data was being passed to the Chinese government.
In the last Congress, the Senate in August 2020 unanimously approved legislation to ban TikTok from government devices. The bill’s sponsor, Republican Senator Josh Hawley, reintroduces into the legislation in 2021.
Many federal agencies, including the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and the states, have already to forbid TikTok from government-owned devices. “TikTok is a major security risk to the United States, and it has no place on government devices,” Hawley previously said.
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds issued guidelines prohibiting executive agencies from downloading the app to any government-provided equipment. A dozen US states have taken similar action, including Alabama and Utah this week.
TikTok said the concerns are largely fueled by misinformation and are happy to meet with policymakers to discuss the company’s practices.
“We are disappointed that so many states are jumping on the political bandwagon to enact policies based on baseless lies about TikTok that will do nothing to advance the national security of the United States,” the company said Wednesday.
Other states taking similar action include Texas, Maryland and South Dakota.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio on Tuesday unveiled bipartisan legislation to ban TikTok altogether in the United States, increasing pressure on ByteDance over US fears the app could be used to spy on Americans and censor content. Rubio is also a sponsor of Hawley’s TikTok government device ban bill.
The legislation would block all transactions by any social media company in China or under the influence of China and Russia, Rubio’s office said.
In a hearing last month, FBI Director Chris Wray said TikTok’s US operations raise national security concerns.
In 2020, then-President Donald Trump attempted to block new users from downloading TikTok and ban other transactions that would have effectively blocked app usage in the United States, but lost a series of legal battles over this measure.
The US government’s Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States, a powerful national security body, in 2020 ordered ByteDance to divest TikTok over concerns that US user data could be passed to the Chinese government, although ByteDance didn’t.
CFIUS and TikTok have been in talks for months to reach a national security agreement aimed at protecting the data of more than 100 million TikTok users, but it doesn’t appear that a deal will be reached before the end of the year. ‘year.


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