Legislation banning the use of TikTok on government devices passed the Senate on Wednesday amid concerns data obtained by the popular social-media app may fall into the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.
The “No TikTok on Government Devices Act,” sponsored by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), would prohibit individuals from downloading or using TikTok on phones, tablets, and computers issued by the US government or government corporations.
The bill passed after no senators objected to the measure. It must still pass the House before heading to President Biden’s desk.
“TikTok is a Trojan Horse for the Chinese Communist Party. It’s a major security risk to the United States, and until it is forced to sever ties with China completely, it has no place on government devices,” Hawley said in a statement. “States across the U.S. are banning TikTok on government devices. It’s time for Joe Biden and the Democrats to help do the same.”
At least five states — Maryland, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas — have banned government agencies from using TikTok over security concerns.
New York lawmakers also introduced a bill this week that would ban state employees and contractors from downloading the app onto government-issued electronics.
At the federal level, another anti-TikTok bill was introduced in Congress this week that seeks to ban the social media platform from the US altogether.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) introduced the Averting the National Threat of Internet Surveillance, Oppressive Censorship and Influence and Algorithmic Learning by the Chinese Communist Party (ANTI-SOCIAL CCP) Act on Tuesday .
Rubio and Gallagher’s bill would ban “all transactions from any social media company in, or under the influence of, China, Russia and several other foreign countries of concern,” such as Iran, North Korea and Venezuela.
TikTok’s parent company, Beijing-based ByteDance LTD, is required under Chinese law to disclose its data to the Chinese Communist Party, according to Rubio.
“This isn’t about creative videos — this is about an app that is collecting data on tens of millions of American children and adults every day,” Rubio said in a statement. “We know it’s used to manipulate feeds and influence elections. We know it answers to the People’s Republic of China.”
TikTok claims it has never shared U.S. user data with the CCP and wouldn’t if asked.
A TikTok spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal that Hawley’s legislation “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.”