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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 BuckHillicon Valley: Supreme Court rules Facebook text alerts not akin to robocalls | Republicans press Google, Apple, Amazon on Parler removals | Texas Senate blocks social media platforms from banning users based on politics Republicans press Google, Apple, Amazon on Parler removals House panel advances bill to repeal 2002 war authorization 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 HawleyMcConnell in tricky spot with GOP, big biz Pence autobiography coming from Simon & Schuster The Hill's Morning Report - Biden's infrastructure plan triggers definition debate 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 ClarkeHillicon Valley: Twitter will not allow Trump account archive on platform | Commerce Dept. still weighing approach to Huawei, TikTok | Dating apps work to reinvent amid COVID-19 pandemic Key House leader to press for inclusion of cybersecurity in infrastructure bill Biden risks first major fight with progressives 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 WextonTrump the X-factor in Virginia governor race Xinjiang forced labor complex is growing — President Biden should work with Congress to curb it Acting chief acknowledges police were unprepared for mob MORE (D-Va.) sponsored another successful amendment requiring a biennial report on foreign influence campaigns targeting American elections.

Updated at 6:40pm