Washington – The Senate unanimously approved a measure late Wednesday that would ban federal employees from using TikTok on all government devices, a move made for security concerns regarding the app and its Chinese parent company ByteDance.
The measure introduced by GOP Sen. Josh Hawley, which was passed by unanimous consent, comes after federal agencies such as the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security banned the app on their devices for reasons of security. Several states have banned the app on government devices for the same reason.
“TikTok is a Trojan horse for the Chinese Communist Party. It is a major security risk to the United States, and until it is forced to completely sever ties with China, it has no out of place on government apparatus,” Hawley said in a statement after the bill passed the Senate on Wednesday night. “States across the United States are banning TikTok on government devices. It’s time for Joe Biden and the Democrats to help do the same.”
The bill states that the director of the Office of Management and Budget must develop standards and guidelines for executive agencies requiring the removal of TikTok, with exceptions for law enforcement and national security activities. .
Hawley introduced similar legislation that passed the Senate in August 2020. It’s unclear if the House will pass the Senate measure, with only days in the calendar before the new Congress. Legislation must be approved by both houses of the same Congress to reach the president’s office. GOP Sense. Tom Cotton, Rick Scott, Marco Rubio and Bill Cassidy co-sponsored this most recent measure.
As CBS News has it, TikTok, with over a billion monthly users worldwide, tracks users’ personal information, including phone numbers, email addresses, contacts, and WiFi networks. US officials have warned that the Chinese government could force the company to share its data.
“We have national security concerns,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said last month. “They include the possibility that the Chinese government could use it to control the collection of data on millions of users.”
Michael Beckerman, TikTok’s head of public policy for the Americas, told CBS News this week that the concern is overblown and “does good politics.” He said TikTok collects less data than other social media apps and tries to move user data to servers in the United States, out of China’s reach.