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Senate passes legislation to ban TikTok on federal devices

Senate passes legislation to ban TikTok on federal devices
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The Senate on Thursday unanimously passed legislation to ban the use of the social media app TikTok on federal devices, weeks after the House approved a similar measure.

The legislation, sponsored primarily by Sens. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyNYPD Asian Hate Crimes Task Force chief: Attacks are 'not new' More than 75 Asian, LGBTQ groups oppose anti-Asian crime bill Senate Commerce Committee advances Biden's FTC nominee Lina Khan MORE (R-Mo.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.), would ban the app’s use on all federal government devices, following bans on the app already put in place by the Army and the Transportation Security Administration due to potential security threats. 

In light of all we know, it is unthinkable to me that we should continue to permit federal employees, those workers entrusted with sensitive government data, to access this app on their work phones and computers,” Hawley said in a statement on Thursday. “I’m encouraged by the bipartisan support we have seen in this body to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable and that includes, by the way, holding accountable those corporations who would just do China’s bidding.”

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He added that, “if I have anything to say about it, we won’t be stopping here.”

Other Senate sponsors of the bill included Sens. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonRepublicans seize on conservative backlash against critical race theory Tim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls Opposition to refugees echoes one of America's most shameful moments MORE (R-Ark.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstConservatives launch 'anti-cancel culture' advocacy organization Sunday shows preview: House GOP removes Cheney from leadership position; CDC issues new guidance for fully vaccinated Americans Overnight Defense: Capitol security bill includes 1M to reimburse National Guard | Turner to lead House push against military sexual assault | Pentagon drops mask mandate MORE (R-Iowa), John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.), and Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyEx-McSally aide pleads guilty to stealing over 0K in campaign funds Arizona state senator announces bid for Kirkpatrick's seat Democratic Arizona Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick says she won't seek reelection MORE (R-Ariz.).

The bill was approved by unanimous consent in the Senate weeks after the House included a companion measure, sponsored by Rep. Ken BuckKenneth (Ken) Robert BuckSpace Force commander removed after comments on podcast GOP votes to replace Cheney with Stefanik after backing from Trump Cheney to any Trump-backed challenger: 'Bring it on' MORE (R-Colo.) banning TikTok on federal devices in the House-passed version of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act.

It is unclear if the bill will need to undergo conference between the House and Senate before being sent to President TrumpDonald TrumpGOP-led Maricopa County board decries election recount a 'sham' Analysis: Arpaio immigration patrol lawsuit to cost Arizona county at least 2 million Conservatives launch 'anti-cancel culture' advocacy organization MORE for signature.

The measure was approved by the Senate almost a week after President Trump floated the idea of banning the popular app in the country due to its ownership by Chinese company ByteDance and potential national security risks stemming from the company's possible relationship with the Chinese government. 

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Microsoft later confirmed that it was in talks to buy the U.S. stake of the company, with Trump saying TikTok had until Sept. 15 to finalize the deal with Microsoft, or else TikTok would be “out of business in the United States.”

TikTok has consistently pushed back against concerns it could pose a national security risk, vowing to never disclose sensitive data to China, along with moving all American data to the U.S. 

A spokesperson for TikTok highlighted the company’s efforts to move operations into the United States in response to the Senate’s approval of the bill Thursday. 

"TikTok is loved by 100 million Americans because it's their home for entertainment, self-expression, and connection, which we recognize is not what federal government devices are for,” the spokesperson said. “We've hired nearly 1,000 people to our US team this year alone, and we're proud to be hiring another 10,000 employees into great paying jobs across the US.”

“We have no higher priority than promoting a safe app experience that protects our users' privacy,” the spokesperson added.