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Warner: White House ‘very in favor’ of bill giving Commerce Dept. ability to ban TikTok

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.)
Greg Nash
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) leaves an all-senators briefing with Biden administration officials on Wednesday, February 15, 2023 to discuss unidentified objects recently shot down over the past week.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said on Sunday that the White House is “very in favor” of a Senate bill that would give the Department of Commerce the ability to review and potentially ban technologies associated with foreign governments, as the Chinese-linked TikTok platform faces increased congressional scrutiny.

“I think the White House is very in favor of this bill,” Warner said on CBS’s “Face The Nation.” “We give the secretary of Commerce the tools to ban, to force a sale, other tools.”

The push by a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the Senate, led by Warner and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), to provide the executive branch with more authority to oversee foreign technologies comes as the popular video-based social media platform TikTok has come under sharp criticism. With officials flagging national security concerns about the potential availability of TikTok user data to the Chinese government, lawmakers have floated a blanket ban of the platform in the U.S.

Warner said on Sunday that the bill, dubbed the Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology (RESTRICT) Act, to give the executive branch more power to regulate the technologies has picked up the support of 22 senators — 11 Republicans and 11 Democrats.

But he did not say whether the White House has signaled if it planned to ban TikTok or force its sale if given the authority. 

The comments from Warner come after TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew was grilled by House lawmakers last week, an appearance that Warner criticized.

“While I appreciated Mr. Chew’s testimony, he just couldn’t answer the basic questions,” Warner said on CBS. “At the end of the day, TikTok is owned by a Chinese company, ByteDance. And by Chinese law, that company has to be willing to turn over data to the Communist Party.” 

In his testimony, Chew tried to quell fears from lawmakers that the company was providing information to the Chinese government, telling them that Beijing had never requested data from TikTok and that it would not provide such information if asked.

Tags John Thune Mark Warner Mark Warner Shou Zi Chew TikTok TikTok ban white house

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