Senators push bill to ban TikTok, block foreign tech amid security concerns
TikTok bill shows power of China lobby on Capitol Hill: Brent Bozell
Senators will pitch a bipartisan bill this week that would ban TikTok by blocking foreign-owned technology that poses a national security threat.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Mark Warner, D-Va., appeared on “Fox News Sunday with Shannon Bream,” who asked the senator about the panel’s upcoming hearing on worldwide threat assessments and the threats posed by China.
“I think for a long time, the conventional wisdom was, the more you bring China into the world order, the more they’re going to change, and that assumption was just plain wrong,” Warner said.
Warner went on to explain the steps Congress has already taken to limit the presence of Chinese technologies in the U.S. and added, “This week, I’ve got a broad bipartisan bill that I’m launching with my friend John Thune, who will be the Republican lead, where we’re going to say, 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.”
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Bream asked Warner whether that includes TikTok and the senator replied, “That means TikTok is one of the potentials.” TikTok is owned by a China-based parent company called ByteDance, and Warner noted that Chinese companies are obligated under a 2016 law to obey the Chinese Communist Party.
Warner explained that there are “100 million Americans on TikTok 90 minutes a day” and said, “They are taking data from Americans, not keeping it safe. But what worries me more with TikTok is that this can be a propaganda tool to basically – the kind of videos you see would promote ideological issues.”
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He also noted criticisms that the mix of content shown to TikTok users in the U.S. is very different from what is shown to users in China: “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.”
Warner and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., are expected to formally introduce their legislation this week. Details regarding the upcoming legislation’s provisions were not available on Sunday, but the bipartisan nature of the proposal and the leadership roles the two lawmakers play in the Senate could see the bill fast-tracked to the floor this year.
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TikTok has pushed back against efforts to ban the app in the U.S. amid national concerns about its connections to China.
A TikTok spokesperson told FOX Business: “We hope that Congress will explore solutions to their national security concerns that won’t have the effect of censoring the voices of millions of Americans, and we hope that politicians with national security concerns will encourage the administration to conclude its national security review of TikTok. A U.S. ban on TikTok is a ban on the export of American culture and values to the billion-plus people who use our service worldwide.”
Last week, Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a bill that would give the Biden administration new power to ban TikTok and other apps deemed to pose a national security risk. The committee advanced the legislation on a 24-16 vote that went along party lines. It’s unclear when the bill may reach the House floor for a vote.
Federal agencies are in the process of deleting TikTok from government devices as required by a provision of the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill enacted in December that originally passed the Senate when it was introduced by Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., as a standalone bill.
The law required the Biden administration’s Office of Management and Budget to provide guidance for agencies to implement the No TikTok on Government Devices Act by Feb. 27, 2023. OMB released its guidance on Feb. 27, which gives agencies 30 days to remove or block TikTok and develop limited exceptions for law enforcement or national security interests as permitted by the law.