Senate Homeland Security committee advances bill to ban TikTok from government devices

Senate Homeland Security committee advances bill to ban TikTok from government devices
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The Senate Homeland Security Committee unanimously advanced a bill Wednesday to ban TikTok from government devices.

The legislation, introduced by Sens. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyYates spars with GOP at testy hearing Democrats seek to exploit Trump-GOP tensions in COVID-19 talks Negotiators hit gas on coronavirus talks as frustration mounts MORE (R-Mo.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.), would bar federal employees from downloading the short-form video app onto government-issued devices.

The legislation will now be considered by the full Senate.

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The successful approval from the committee 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.

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.

TikTok has maintained that it does not transfer data to the Chinese government, arguing that it is being targeted by the U.S. because of America's economic rivalry with China.

The U.S. has ramped up its opposition to China in multiple sectors recently, with Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Esper says 'most believe' Beirut explosion was accident, contradicting Trump | Trump later says 'nobody knows yet' what happened in Lebanon | 61-year-old reservist ID'd as fourth military COVID-19 death Meadows defends Trump's description of Beirut explosion as an 'attack' Pompeo urges US companies to block downloads of Chinese apps MORE delivering multiple speeches condemning human rights abuses in the Asian country. 

The administration has also sought to dissuade its allies from using Chinese technology — like 5G infrastructure from telecommunications giant Huawei — with nebulous claims about national security.

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."

An amendment from Rep. Ken BuckKenneth (Ken) Robert BuckThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Progress slow on coronavirus bill The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Biden VP possible next week; Meadows says relief talks 'miles apart' Five takeaways as panel grills tech CEOs MORE (R-Colo.) mirroring the Senate bill was successfully attached attached to the annual defense policy approved by the House on Tuesday.

It is unclear if Hawley and Scott's bill will ultimately be integrated into the Senate's House National Defense Authorization Act proposal.