The US Senate has approved the banning of all federal employee from using TikTok on government authorized phones.
Official have raised security worries about the video-sharing app since it’s owned by Chinese-based company ByteDance. The vote follows a vow from President Trump to close down the application totally in the US by Sept. 15 except it is sold to Microsoft or another US-based company.
“I’m encouraged by the bipartisan support we have seen in this body to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable and that includes…holding accountable those corporations who would just do China’s bidding,” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who sponsored the bill, said in a statement.
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The Senate bill follows a vote in the House last month approving similar legislation from Rep. Ken Buck (R-Co.) that bans federal employees from downloading the app on government-issued devices.
A final version combining the two bills will move to Trump’s desk to be signed into law. “We support Congress’ intent to protect government-issued devices against the privacy and security risks inherent in certain third-party applications,” a White House official said when asked if Trump would support the bill.
A TikTok spokeswoman said promoting a safe app experience that protects users’ privacy is the company’s top priority.
ByteDance has said it has never provided TikTok user data to the Chinese government and wouldn’t do so if officials ask.
A growing number of countries have begun considering or implementing bans on the app, over its Beijing-based operations, including India, Australia and Japan.
ByteDance CEO Zhang Yiming told employees in a leaked email Monday that he considers a forced sale to be “unreasonable” and said the US is ultimately pursuing a ban.
“But this is not their goal, or even what they want,” he wrote. “Their real objective is to achieve a comprehensive ban.”
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