Senate Votes to Ban TikTok from Gov't Devices: Could It Be Banned Across Entire US?
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In a rare show of bipartisan unity, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a measure Wednesday night that would prohibit federal employees from downloading or even using the social media app TikTok on any type of government-owned electronic device.
The Senate's move comes after mounting national security concerns from lawmakers and government officials over the Chinese-owned social media platform, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The bill will still have to pass the House of Representatives and it must also be approved by President Biden in order to become law.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) co-sponsored the legislation, along with Sens. Rick Scott (R-FL), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Tom Cotton (R-AR).
After the Senate vote, Hawley tweeted about the bill, writing: "Tonight the Senate unanimously passed my bill to BAN TikTok on all government devices."
Tonight the Senate unanimously passed my bill to BAN TikTok on all government devices— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) December 15, 2022
TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter responding to the bill's passage, told The Journal that the Missouri senator's bill "does nothing to advance U.S. national security interests. We hope that rather than continuing down that road, he will urge the administration to move forward on an agreement that would actually address his concerns."
Another U.S. State Just Banned TikTok from Government Workers' Devices
Meanwhile, North Dakota has become the latest U.S. state to ban the app from its employees' work devices. In an executive order, Gov. Doug Burgum has banned TikTok from devices owned by the state government’s executive branch, joining several other Republican governors who have done so, citing the platform’s Chinese ownership and growing national security worries.
In addition to prohibiting downloads of TikTok on government-issued equipment or while connected to the state’s network, it bars visiting the TikTok website.
The Republican governors of South Dakota, Maryland, South Carolina, and Nebraska have also taken such steps.
World's Most Popular App - Could It Be the World's #1 Spy?
In just five years, the application, which allows users to post short videos with music, has exploded into a pop-culture phenomenon. It is the world's most popular app, used by two-thirds of American teens, according to The Journal.
As CBN News has reported, the phenomenal growth of TikTok, owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, means its information infrastructure is collecting Americans' personal data at an alarming rate. Even simple information like your name, birthday, and location could be used for extortion.
FBI Director Chris Wray recently told a House Homeland Security Committee that his agency did have national security concerns about TikTok, especially that the Chinese government could control the data of millions of users or use its algorithm to influence users.
Three U.S. lawmakers have already introduced a bill that would ban TikTok for the entire United States. The legislation would "block and prohibit all transactions" from social media companies that are either based in countries considered foreign adversaries or heavily influenced by their regimes.
The new bill, introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and U.S. Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), would ban "all transactions from any social media company in, or under the influence of, China, Russia, and several other foreign countries of concern," according to a press release.
The measure, known as The ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act – or Averting the National Threat of Internet Surveillance, Oppressive Censorship, and Influence, and Algorithmic Learning by the Chinese Communist Party – specifically names ByteDance and TikTok as subject to restrictions contained in the bill, according to CNBC.
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