Senate Votes To Ban TikTok On Government Phones

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James Lynch Contributor
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The Senate unanimously passed a bill Wednesday to ban individuals from downloading or using TikTok on government-issued devices.

Republican Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri, Tim Scott of South Carolina, and Rick Scott and Marco Rubio of Florida originally introduced the bill in March 2020. It passed the Senate unanimously in Aug. 2020. The bill was reintroduced and now has to pass the House of Representatives and be signed by President Joe Biden to become law.

“TikTok is a Trojan Horse for the Chinese Communist Party. 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,” Hawley said in a press release. “States across the U.S. are banning TikTok on government devices. It’s time for Joe Biden and the Democrats to help do the same.”

Republican governors in states such as South Dakota, Maryland, Utah and Texas have recently banned TikTok on government devices.

The State Department, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense and Transportation Security Administration have banned TikTok from employee devices due to national security concerns.

Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Republican Wisconsin Rep. Mike Gallagher and Democratic Illinois Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi introduced a bill Tuesday to ban TikTok from operating in the U.S.

TikTok had an estimated 86.9 million U.S. users in 2021 and reached 1 billion global monthly users in September 2021. The video sharing platform has become the most downloaded social media app, used by two-thirds of American teens, according to The Wall Street Journal.

TikTok’s parent company ByteDance is based in China and allegedly had plans to secretly monitor American citizens by using TikTok data, according to Forbes. (RELATED: Indiana Sues TikTok For Targeting Young Teen)

ByteDance employees repeatedly accessed U.S. user data from TikTok, contradicting sworn testimony by a TikTok executive from Oct. 2021, BuzzFeed reported. Audio of more than 80 internal TikTok meetings showed how “everything is seen in China,” an employee said in 2021, according to BuzzFeed.

The Biden administration delayed a national security review of TikTok by the Treasury Department’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) due to additional national security concerns by U.S. officials.

Issues with the platform’s recommendation algorithm and trustworthiness have stalled negotiations to resolve national security concerns without altering TikTok’s ownership structure.

TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment.