The White House has thrown its weight behind a Senate bill that would give the United States government greater power to ban popular social media app TikTok and other Chinese-owned apps.
The bill, called the “No TikTok on Government Devices Act,” was introduced in the Senate by Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) in March 2021. The legislation would prohibit federal employees from downloading or using TikTok on government-issued devices, and it would also require the Department of Homeland Security to create a list of Chinese-owned apps that pose a national security risk.
The bill has gained momentum in recent weeks, with the White House issuing a statement in support of the legislation. In a press briefing, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “The administration is committed to promoting an open, interoperable, reliable and secure Internet, protecting human rights online and offline, and supporting a vibrant, global digital economy. We are supportive of the effort to address security risks posed by foreign-controlled apps, including TikTok.”
The move to ban TikTok and other Chinese-owned apps comes amid growing concerns over national security and data privacy. TikTok, which is owned by Chinese tech giant ByteDance, has faced intense scrutiny in the United States over allegations that it could be used to collect data on American users and provide the Chinese government access to that information.
There are growing concerns that TikTok’s user data could fall into the hands of the Chinese government, jeopardizing Western security interests.
Supporters of the legislation from both political parties praised it, saying that it “would increase our ability to handle discrete risks provided by individual transactions, and systemic risks posed by particular classes of transactions involving countries of concern in sensitive technology sectors.” Jake Sullivan, a national security adviser in the White House, concurred.
In a different statement, Raimondo promised to work with senators “to progress this legislation through Congress” and expressed her support for the legal framework that would be used to deal with these dangers and safeguard the safety and security of Americans.
Shou Zi Chew, the CEO of TikTok, is slated to testify before Congress on March 23.
In an interview with Fox News on Tuesday, Senator Marco Rubio said that while Warner’s plan “takes steps” to stop TikTok from operating in the US, it does not go far enough.
Rubio stated, “We should pass a bill that bans TikTok.” The only bipartisan, bicameral bill that does that is mine.
Last week, the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved a measure sponsored by Republican Representative Michael McCaul that would have given Vice President Joe Biden the power to impose a ban on WeChat and TikTok in the event that President Donald Trump’s efforts to do so in 2020 were unsuccessful.
The No TikTok on Government Devices Act is just one step in what is likely to be a long and complicated process of addressing these concerns. As technology continues to advance and social media becomes an increasingly important part of our daily lives, policymakers will need to find new ways to balance national security concerns with the benefits of an open and interconnected world.