US House Of Representatives Bans TikTok, As Government Ban Looms

The United States establishment continues to ramp up the pressure on ByteDance’s hugely popular video-sharing app TikTok.

The administration arm of the US House of Representatives has ordered all US congressmen and women to delete China’s TikTok from their official devices, Reuters reported.

It comes after the US Senate (before Christmas) passed a bill sponsored by Republican Senator Josh Hawley to ban federal employees from using TikTok on government owned devices.

TikTok owner ByteDance. Image credit: ByteDance

Government ban

That proposal was backed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy.

And last week the US Congress passed legislation to ban US government employees from downloading or using TikTok on their government-owned devices.

It was part of the $1.66 trillion omnibus spending bill, that was passed last week to fund the US government through to 30 September 2023.

This spending bill includes a provision to ban the app on federally managed devices, and will take effect once President Joe Biden signs the legislation into law.

But before that ban can be enacted, TikTok has been banned from all US House of Representatives-managed devices.

The app is considered “high risk due to a number of security issues,” the House’s Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) was quoted by Reuters as saying in a message sent to all lawmakers and staff on Tuesday, and must be deleted from all devices managed by the House.

“With the passage of the Omnibus that banned TikTok on executive branch devices, the CAO worked with the Committee on House Administration to implement a similar policy for the House,” a spokesperson for the Chief Administrative Officer told Reuters on Tuesday.

The message to staff said anyone with TikTok on their device would be contacted about removing it, and future downloads of the app were prohibited.

On this side of the pond, the UK Parliament closed down its TikTok account, after just one week of operation.

Tracking allegations

TikTok’s case was not helped last week, when ByteDance admitted that some staff members improperly accessed TikTok user data of two journalists and were no longer employed by the company.

ByteDance was already facing significant pressure in the United States over security concerns about US user data, with a growing number of US states banning the app on government devices.

Forbes last week also reported that ByteDance had tracked multiple Forbes journalists including some who formerly worked at BuzzFeed “as part of a covert surveillance campaign” aimed at discovering the source of leaks.

Randall Lane, the chief content officer of Forbes, called it “a direct assault on the idea of a free press and its critical role in a functioning democracy.”

In October TikTok had denied a Forbes report that it had ‘targetted’ US citizens, and insisted it did not collect precise GPS location data.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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