Senate Fears Federal Workers Are Using a 'Trojan Horse'

It passes bill that would bar the downloading, use of TikTok on government devices
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2022 9:29 AM CST
Senate's Latest Bill Goes After TikTok
The TikTok logo is seen on a cellphone on Oct. 14 in Boston.   (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)

TikTok has seen a smackdown of sorts across the nation, with multiple states banning use of the video hosting service on government devices. Now the Senate has voted in favor of a similar ban for federal employees, passing a bill that will need House approval before making its way to President Biden's desk. The "No TikTok on Government Devices Act," sponsored by GOP Rep. Josh Hawley and passed via a unanimous-consent voice vote on Wednesday, will "prohibit certain individuals from downloading or using TikTok on any device issued by the United States or a government corporation," per the Hill.

"TikTok is a Trojan horse for the Chinese Communist Party," Hawley said in a statement. "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." To get the bill to Biden, the House needs to vote on it before this current congressional session wraps up, which is likely to be next week. A similar bill sailed through the Senate in a previous Congress but then stalled in the House. Reuters notes that, in addition to about a dozen states taking steps to restrict the app, which is owned by the Chinese firm ByteDance, multiple government agencies have as well, including Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, and the State Department.

GOP Sen. Marco Rubio wants to take things even further, banning TikTok altogether in the US. Rubio introduced bipartisan legislation Tuesday to that effect, citing fears of censorship and spying on Americans. "This isn't about creative videos—this is about an app that is collecting data on tens of millions of American children and adults every day," he said in a statement on his own ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act, which would ban transactions from any media company under the thumb of a "country of concern," like China or Russia, according to Rubio's team. TikTok, for its part, denies sharing US data with the Chinese government and says it never would. Hawley's bill "does nothing to advance US national security interests," a company spokesperson says in a statement, per the Wall Street Journal. (More TikTok stories.)

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