Two U.S. senators will file legislation this week that would pave the way for the government to “ban or prohibit” foreign technology businesses in the United States—including the Chinese video-sharing app TikTok, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said.
TikTok would be “one of the potentials” for consideration under the proposed bipartisan legislation, Warner, the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told “Fox News Sunday” on March 5.
Warner raised his concern that Tiktok “could be a propaganda tool … to promote ideological issues” based on the types of videos it allows users to see.
According to Warner, the proposed legislation would state that “in terms of foreign technology coming into America, we’ve got to have a systemic approach to make sure we can ban or prohibit it when necessary.”
He compared the content that Tiktok offers young users in China to that which the application pushes to users in America.
“If you look at what Tiktok shows to the Chinese kids, which is all about science and engineering, versus what our kids see, there’s a radical difference,” he said.
Warner declared that he would submit the bill this week alongside Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.). A representative for Warner stated that an announcement was anticipated for March 7.
Bipartisan Efforts to Purge Tiktok
TikTok has long been the subject of congressional scrutiny due to its ties to the CCP and its alleged practice of sending user data to the servers of its parent company, ByteDance, in China.
There have been ongoing legal efforts to purge the popular Chinese app from the devices of members of Congress and employees of the executive branch of the U.S. government.
On Feb. 27, the White House ordered the removal of the Chinese-owned TikTok app from all government devices and systems within 30 days in a bid to keep government data safe.
The White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said on Twitter that the Biden administration “has made advancing our nation’s cybersecurity a top priority.”
“Today, OMB is releasing guidance on implementation of the ‘No TikTok on Government Devices Act,’ requiring agencies to cease using the app except in select circumstances,” the agency wrote.
OMB Director Shalanda Young issued the guidance to all federal agencies, requiring them to prohibit internet traffic from reaching the Chinese-owned company as part of the purge.
According to an OMB document, agencies have 90 days to remedy any TikTok usage by IT suppliers under contracts. They also have to add a new TikTok ban to all new solicitations within 120 days.
The memo states that while specific applications of the software on government devices, such as those related to security research, law enforcement, or national security may be allowed, broad exclusions from the rule for entire agencies wouldn’t be allowed.
Furthermore, agency leaders must approve any such activity, according to the memo.
Meanwhile, Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced a bill (pdf) at the end of February—the “Deterring America’s Technological Adversaries Act”—that would give President Joe Biden the authority to ban TikTok from all devices in the United States.
He described TikTok as “a spy balloon into your phone.”
“Currently, the courts have questioned the administration’s authority to sanction TikTok. My bill empowers the administration to ban TikTok or any software applications that threaten U.S. national security,” McCaul said in a statement to The Epoch Times.
“And make no mistake—TikTok is a security threat. It allows the CCP to manipulate and monitor its users while it gobbles up Americans’ data to be used for their malign activities,” he continued. “Anyone with TikTok downloaded on their device has given the CCP a backdoor to all their personal information.”
A congressional omnibus bill approved on Dec. 23 last year includes legislation that would ban TikTok from federal government devices. At that time, the “No TikTok on Government Devices Act” had already been approved unanimously by the Senate.
Ban in Multiple Countries
India, Taiwan, the European Union, and several U.S. states have already ordered similar bans. Canada also announced a ban earlier on March 6.
Mona Fortier, president of the Canadian Treasury Board, announced on Feb. 28 that the nation would ban TikTok that same day on all devices provided by the government because of concern that the app’s data collection leaves users vulnerable to cyberattacks.
On Feb. 25, in line with the United States and other nations, the European Union ordered a ban on TikTok across all corporate and individual devices used by the European Commission.
“To increase its cybersecurity, the [European] Commission’s Corporate Management Board has decided to suspend the use of the TikTok application on its corporate devices and on personal devices enrolled in the Commission mobile device service,” the Commission said in a statement.
“This measure aims to protect the Commission against cybersecurity threats and actions which may be exploited for cyber-attacks against the corporate environment of the Commission.”
Caden Pearson contributed to this report.
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