Republican lawmakers reintroduce bill to ban TikTok on federal devices

Republican lawmakers reintroduce bill to ban TikTok on federal devices
© Greg Nash

Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyMissouri Senate candidate says Congress members should go to jail if guilty of insider trading On The Money — Ban on stock trading for Congress gains steam The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Schumer tees up doomed election reform vote MORE (R-Mo.) led a group of Senate Republicans on Thursday in reintroducing legislation to ban the use of social media app TikTok on federal government devices, citing potential national security concerns. 

The No TikTok on Government Devices Act would ban all federal employees from using the popular app on government devices. The legislation was previously introduced in 2020, and was unanimously passed by the Senate in August, but the bill never received a vote in the House.  

“TikTok is a Trojan horse for the Chinese Communist Party that has no place on government devices—or any American devices, for that matter,” Hawley said in a statement Thursday. “My bill is a straightforward plan to protect American government data from a hostile foreign power, which, less than a year ago, passed the Senate unanimously.” 

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“TikTok has repeatedly proven itself to be a malicious actor but Joe Biden and Big Tech refuse to take the threat of Chinese espionage seriously. It’s time for Congress to act,” he added. 

Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioPut partisan politics aside — The Child Tax Credit must be renewed immediately These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Lawmakers press Biden admin to send more military aid to Ukraine MORE (R-Fla.), Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonSunday shows preview: US reaffirms support for Ukraine amid threat of Russian invasion Senate's antitrust bill would raise consumer prices and lower our competitiveness Sinema scuttles hopes for filibuster reform MORE (R-Ark.), and Rick Scott (R-Fla.) are co-sponsors of the legislation.  

The bill was also reintroduced in the House by Rep. Ken BuckKenneth (Ken) Robert BuckSununu exit underscores uncertain GOP path to gain Senate majority Matt Stoller: Amazon's Bezos likely lied under oath before Congress Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Agencies sound alarm over ransomware targeting agriculture groups MORE (R-Colo.), who said in a separate statement that the legislation “is in the best interest of our national security.”

“Chinese-owned apps are required to report user data to the Chinese Communist Party, that is why we cannot trust TikTok with the sensitive data that exists on U.S. government devices,” Buck said. "It is well past time to acknowledge the serious cybersecurity threat that TikTok poses and enact a federal government-wide ban on the Chinese app.”

While the federal government as a whole has not taken the step to ban TikTok, agencies including the Defense and Homeland Security departments, along with the Transportation Security Administration, have already banned employees from using the app on their federal devices. 

TikTok came under close scrutiny during the Trump administration, with former President TrumpDonald TrumpHeadaches intensify for Democrats in Florida Stormy Daniels set to testify against former lawyer Avenatti in fraud trial Cheney challenger wins Wyoming Republican activists' straw poll MORE issuing an executive order last year requiring Chinese company ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, to sell the app or have it banned from use in the United States. 

The effort to ban TikTok stalled out in the last months of the Trump administration following a contentious election, with the deadline for sale of TikTok passing with no action taken, leaving the Biden administration to set its own rules on the app.  

TikTok has repeatedly pushed back against concerns that it poses a threat due to ByteDance’s alleged connections to the Chinese government and data security concerns, with the company taking steps to increase its security and the privacy of data.  

Commerce Secretary Gina RaimondoGina RaimondoUS, Japan in 'close consultations' amid Russian tensions Biden calls Intel's B investment to build chip factories a tool for economic recovery The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems look to repackage BBB into salvageable bill MORE said last week that Jake SullivanJake SullivanWicker: Biden comments on Ukraine caused 'distress' for both parties White House says Russia could launch attack in Ukraine 'at any point' Blinken stresses 'unshakable' US commitment to Ukraine in call with Russian counterpart MORE, President BidenJoe BidenUS threatens sweeping export controls against Russian industries Headaches intensify for Democrats in Florida US orders families of embassy staff in Ukraine to leave country MORE’s national security adviser, was leading a review to determine how the Biden administration would approach TikTok and other Chinese tech companies.

While Raimondo did not directly comment on if the administration would force ByteDance to sell TikTok, she stressed that “what we do on offense is more important than what we do on defense” and the need to “level the playing field” with China.