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House-approved defense bill would ban TikTok from government devices

House-approved defense bill would ban TikTok from government devices
© Greg Nash

An amendment banning the use of TikTok on government devices was successfully attached to the annual defense policy approved by the House Tuesday.

The proposal, brought by Rep. Ken BuckKenneth (Ken) Robert BuckThe rhetoric of techlash: A source of clarity or confusion? Hillicon Valley: Congressional antitrust report rips tech firms | Facebook tightens ban on QAnon content | Social media groups urged to weed out disinformation targeting minority voters Congressional antitrust report rips tech firms for stifling competition MORE (D-Colo.), would bar federal employees from downloading the short-form video app onto government-issued devices.

The successful amendment comes amid rising scrutiny of TikTok as a national security threat because of its ties to China. TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, is based in and operates out of Beijing.

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A spokesperson for TikTok said in a statement to The Hill that the company's app is for "for entertainment and creative expression, which we recognize is not what federal government devices are for."

The company has maintained that it does not transfer data to the Chinese government.

The Trump administration has suggested it will ban TikTok outright because of its ties to the Chinese Communist Party, although no specific timeline or mechanism has been provided.

Now that the House approved the House National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by a 295 to 125 margin, the Senate will likely pass its own version of the bill, then the two chambers will come together on compromise legislation.

Buck's amendment mirrors a bill introduced in the Senate by Sens. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyJustice Department charges Google with illegally maintaining search monopoly Conservatives seize on New York Post story to push Section 230 reform Hillicon Valley: Trump refuses to condemn QAnon | Twitter revises its policy, lets users share disputed article | Google sees foreign cyber threats MORE (R-Mo.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.), making it likely that a TikTok ban will at least be considered.

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The entire bill may be shot down, however, with the White House threatening to veto it over a provision that would direct the Pentagon to rename military bases currently named after Confederate leaders.

Also of note in the House version of the NDAA are two amendments from Rep. Yvette ClarkeYvette Diane ClarkeLawmakers call for small business aid at all levels of government The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Washington on edge amid SCOTUS vacancy The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Top tech executives testify in blockbuster antitrust hearing MORE (D-N.Y.) requiring the military to report to Congress on the defense implications of deepfakes and the creation of a new working group to assess their national security risks.

The New York lawmaker also successfully attached an amendment prohibiting the Defense Department from using funds on artificial intelligence systems not vetted for algorithmic bias.

Rep. Jennifer WextonJennifer Lynn WextonVirginia voter registration website back up after outage on last day to register House advances bill aimed at imports tied to Uyghur forced labor This week: Supreme Court fight over Ginsburg's seat upends Congress's agenda MORE (D-Va.) sponsored another successful amendment requiring a biennial report on foreign influence campaigns targeting American elections.

Updated at 6:40pm