What you need to know
- TikTok will likely be banned from U.S. government-issued smartphones.
- The U.S. Senate has approved a bill that makes it illegal to download the app on any government device.
- The bill is still pending approval from the House of Representatives before it reaches the U.S. president’s desk.
TikTok's obstacles in the United States continue to mount, with the Senate unanimously passing legislation prohibiting anyone from installing the app on government devices.
The “No TikTok on Government Devices Act,” which was introduced by Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), seeks to ban TikTok from any government-issued smartphones due to national security concerns. However, it must still be approved by the House of Representatives before it can be sent to the president of the United States.
U.S. officials are concerned that ByteDance, which owns and operates the app, may share user information with the Chinese government. The bill also unanimously passed in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
“TikTok is a Trojan Horse for the Chinese Communist Party,” said Senator Hawley. “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.”
The FBI raised similar concerns in November, as per CBS News. “We do have national security concerns,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said. “They include the possibility that the Chinese government could use it to control data collection on millions of users.”
Under the proposed law, the Office of Management and Budget will develop guidelines for how government agencies will ensure that TikTok is not downloaded on their devices. Law enforcement and national security operations, however, will be exempt.
This isn't the first time the U.S. government has moved to prohibit the use of TikTok in government devices. The Department of Commerce also banned TikTok along with WeChat from app stores in the U.S. in 2020 because of national security concerns. However, President Joe Biden issued an executive order last year reversing the ban.
Android Central has reached out to TikTok for comment and will update this article when we hear back. Meanwhile, a TikTok spokesperson told Bloomberg that the legislation has “nothing to advance US national security interests.”