US Senates Passes Legislation To Ban TikTok From Government Devices

American lawmakers pass bill to ban TikTok on government devices, in latest move to ban Chinese app in the United States

The US Senate passed legislation on Wednesday evening to ban TikTok from US government devices.

CNN reported that the vote by unanimous consent approved the “No TikTok on Government Devices Act,” a bill authored by Republican Senator Josh Hawley.

This is the latest move in the US to ban the popular short video-sharing app, after three US lawmakers earlier this week introduced bipartisan legislation that aims to ban TikTok from operating altogether in the United States.

Credit: US Senate

Government ban

This bill however bans federal employees from using TikTok on government-issued devices.

It should be noted that while the US Senate voted unanimously to approve the measure, it must pass in the House of Congress to become law.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was quoted by CNN as saying Thursday it isn’t yet clear whether the chamber will take up the TikTok bill in light of its Senate passage, saying lawmakers were consulting with White House officials on its language.

Biden administration officials are trying to determine if there is a way to create a corporate structure that would allow TikTok to operate in the US, but with protections that would prevent the Chinese government from gaining access to American users’ personal data.

And ByteDance’s TikTok was quickly to respond.

“Once again, Sen. Hawley has moved forward with legislation to ban TikTok on government devices, a proposal which does nothing to advance US national security interests,” a spokesperson for TikTok was quoted by CNN as saying in a statement.

“We hope that rather than continuing down that road, he will urge the Administration to move forward on an agreement that would actually address his concerns.”

US lawmakers are worried about TikTok, as China-based firms are legally obliged under the Chinese ‘2017 Intelligence Security law’ to hand over data to Beijing if requested.

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

Last month FBI Director Chris Wray, according to the Associated Press, warned that control of the popular video sharing app is in the hands of a Chinese government “that doesn’t share our values.”

TikTok bans

TikTok it should be noted faces bans from a growing number of (most Republican) US states, that are banning the Chinese app from their respective state devices, networks and computers.

Beijing-based ByteDance is already dealing with Taiwan earlier this month opting to ban TikTok and other Chinese software from government devices and platforms.

The US state of Texas and South Dakota have also banned TikTok from government-owned devices – citing threats to user data.

The US state of Maryland followed suite soon after.

South Carolina Republican Govenor Henry McMaster has also asked the state’s Department of Administration to ban TikTok from all state government devices.

TikTok has been banned on Nebraska state electronic devices since August 2020, and then this week Alabama and Utah joined those other US states prohibiting the use of TikTok on state government devices and computer networks.

The US armed forces have prohibited the app on military devices, and the US State Department and the Department of Homeland Security have also restricted TikTok from devices under their control.

Former US President Donald Trump in 2020 actively tried to ban TikTok in the US, and even tried to force its sale to a US owned entity.

In June 2021, President Joe Biden overturned Trump’s executive orders that sought to ban TikTok downloads, and directed the Commerce Department to conduct a review of security concerns posed by the app.

At the moment, TikTok and the US government have reportedly been negotiating a deal that may allow the app to keep serving US users.

There have apparently been years of closed-door talks between TikTok and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, as well as recent media reports of delays in the negotiations.