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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 Hawley (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.

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 Pompeo 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 Buck (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.

Tags ByteDance entertainment app government phones Josh Hawley Ken Buck Mike Pompeo smart phones Social media tiktok TikTok ban work phones
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