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Senate Votes Unanimously to Ban TikTok From Government Devices (Again)

Friday, December 16, 2022

The US Senate once again unanimously voted to ban TikTok from all government-issued phones and other devices.

The bill still needs approval from the House before going to President Joe Biden for his signature, but lawmakers only have a few days to get that done before this Congress adjourns for the year and the new, GOP-controlled House convenes in January.

Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.) originally introduced the legislation(Opens in a new window) in 2020, citing cybersecurity concerns and "possible spying" by the Chinese government. It passed the Senate unanimously in August 2020, but ultimately stalled after President Trump signed two executive orders that moved to ban the app entirely in the US.

Those efforts also fizzled out eventually, and President Biden rescinded the EOs once he took office. Sens. Hawley, Scott, Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) then reintroduced the No TikTok on Government Devices Act in 2021, which includes exceptions for "law enforcement activities, national security interests and activities, and security researchers" under certain circumstances. But the Senate didn't take any action on it until this week.

"TikTok is a Trojan Horse for the Chinese Communist Party," Hawley said in a statement(Opens in a new window). "It's a major security risk to the United States, and until it is forced to sever ties with China completely, it has no place on government devices. States across the US are banning TikTok on government devices. It's time for Joe Biden and the Democrats to help do the same."

The Biden administration is currently hammering out(Opens in a new window) an agreement with TikTok to resolve national security concerns. In the meantime, several states have recently moved to ban the app on government-issued devices, including Alabama, Maryland, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, and Texas. (Nebraska did the same in 2020(Opens in a new window).)

The US government has been locked in a battle with the popular video-based social network for years, claiming that Chinese owner ByteDance secretly uses TikTok for counterintelligence purposes. Talk of nationwide bans has been tossed about since 2020, with agencies(Opens in a new window) and military branches prohibiting the app's installation on official devices.

"Once again, Sen. Hawley has moved forward with legislation to ban TikTok on government devices, a proposal which does nothing to advance US national security interests," a TikTok spokesperson tells CNN(Opens in a new window). "We hope that rather than continuing down that road, he will urge the administration to move forward on an agreement that would actually address his concerns."

While Hawley's bill awaits its fate in the House of Representatives, Sen. Rubio and Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) and Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) this week filed a separate bill—dubbed the ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act—which calls for total TikTok prohibition across the US.

By: DocMemory
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