GOP senator to offer bill banning TikTok on government devices

GOP senator to offer bill banning TikTok on government devices
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Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleySenate GOP divided over whether they'd fill Supreme Court vacancy  McConnell: 15-20 GOP senators will not vote for any coronavirus deal Trump plans to order Chinese company to sell TikTok's US operations: reports MORE (R-Mo.) on Wednesday said he will introduce legislation banning federal employees from using TikTok on government devices.

"This is a necessary step to protect the security of the United States and the data security of every American," Hawley said during a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on big tech's connections to China.

The legislation comes as several agencies that deal with national security and intelligence issues have completely banned their employees from using TikTok, a social media platform owned by Chinese internet company ByteDance.

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However, enforcement of those bans has been spotty, with many military members, for example, still posting on TikTok.

The short form video platform has exploded in popularity in the U.S., having been downloaded more than 123 million times in the country, but has been met with increasing scrutiny.

Lawmakers and intelligence officials have warned that Chinese law requiring companies to hand over data in investigations means that apps from the company pose a threat to American data security.

There is no public evidence to suggest that the Chinese government has any access to the data collected from U.S. users by the TikTok app. And the company has continually insisted that it does not cooperate with the Chinese government, pointing out that it stores data on Americans in the U.S. with a backup in Singapore.

An official for TikTok, which was invited to the hearing but declined to participate, told The Hill that Hawley’s concerns are “unfounded.”

"While we think the concerns are unfounded, we understand them and are continuing to further strengthen our safeguards while increasing our dialogue with lawmakers to help explain our policies,” the official said in a statement. “We recently reached out to several Members of Congress to express an interest in meeting in the near future."

Updated at 2:48 p.m.