In response to mounting national-security concerns, the United States Senate unanimously passed legislation prohibiting government employees from installing and using the short-form video hosting service app TikTok on government devices.
The bipartisan legislation to forbid the use of the Chinese app was introduced on Tuesday in the US Senate by Republican Senator Marco Rubio, ratcheting up pressure on ByteDance due to US fears the app could be used to spy on Americans and censure content.
The legislation would block all transactions from any social media company in or under the influence of China and Russia, Rubio’s office said.
The legislation is called the “Averting the National Threat of Internet Surveillance, Oppressive Censorship and Influence, and Algorithmic Learning by the Chinese Communist Party Act” (Anti-Social CCP Act) and is expected to protect Americans by blocking and prohibiting all transactions from any social media company in China, among other countries.
According to Wall Street Journal, the legislation would still have to pass the House and be signed by the president to become law. A similar bill passed the Senate in a previous Congress but never moved forward in the House.
The vote is the latest action on the part of US lawmakers to crackdown on Chinese companies amid national security fears that Beijing could use them to spy on Americans.
The Senate action comes after North Dakota and Iowa this week joined a growing number of U.S. states in banning TikTok, owned by ByteDance, from state-owned devices amid concerns that data could be passed on to the Chinese government.
During the last Congress, the Senate in August 2020 unanimously approved legislation to bar TikTok from government devices. The bill’s sponsor, Republican Senator Josh Hawley, reintroduced in legislation in 2021.
Many federal agencies, including the Defense, Homeland Security, and State departments, already ban TikTok from government-owned devices. “TikTok is a major security risk to the United States, and it has no place on government devices,” Hawley said previously.
(With inputs from agencies)
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