Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri and other GOP senators reintroduced a measure Thursday to ban Tiktok from all federal government devices. Tiktok, the popular social media application, is cited by the lawmakers as being a privacy risk on American soil given its ownership by the Chinese Communist Party.
“TikTok is a Trojan horse for the Chinese Communist Party that has no place on government devices — or any American devices, for that matter,” said Hawley in a statement. “My bill is a straightforward plan to protect American government data from a hostile foreign power, which, less than a year ago, passed the Senate unanimously. TikTok has repeatedly proven itself to be a malicious actor but Joe Biden and Big Tech refuse to take the threat of Chinese espionage seriously.”
As Hawley alludes to, this is the second time since 2020 the No TikTok on Government Devices Act has been put forth. The 2021 version is sponsored by Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, and Rick Scott and Marco Rubio of Florida.
In January last year, the State Department and Department of Homeland Security joined the Pentagon in banning Tiktok on all devices issued by the government. Republican Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado is planning to put forth a similar measure to ban the app in the House. It is co-sponsored by nearly a dozen representatives, including Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona, Chip Roy of Texas, Doug Lamborn of Colorado, and Dan Crenshaw of Texas.
“The No TikTok on Government Devices Act is in the best interest of our national security,” Buck told The Federalist. “Chinese-owned apps are required to report user data to the Chinese Communist Party, that is why we cannot trust TikTok with the sensitive data that exists on U.S. government devices. It is well past time to acknowledge the serious cybersecurity threat that TikTok poses and enact a federal government-wide ban on the Chinese app.”
In August 2020, President Donald Trump announced orders banning Tiktok and Chinese-owned WeChat in 45 days if the parent companies did not sell the platforms. ByteDance Ltd., which owns Tiktok, is currently trying to sell the app. The Department of Justice dropped the cases against Tiktok in February. The Biden administration put a pause on the ban, so it can “become familiar with the issues in this case.” Tiktok has over 800 million users worldwide, with 100 million residing in the U.S.
The measure reintroduced in the Senate calls for “the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, in consultation with the Administrator of General Services, the Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Secretary of Defense,” to take action to remove Tiktok from devices “within 60 days” of the bill being enacted.