TikTok Ban On Government Devices Included In $1.7 Trillion Spending Bill

A TikTok ban on government devices is included in the latest version of the $1.7 trillion “omnibus” bill.

The Tuesday draft follows the unanimous passage of the “No TikTok on Government Devices Act” in the Senate last week after it was introduced by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO).

“Wonders never cease,” Hawley tweeted Tuesday, noting the addition.

Wonders never cease https://t.co/3S3MxoKaJM

— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) December 20, 2022

“TikTok is a Trojan Horse for the Chinese Communist Party. 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,” Hawley said in a statement last week. “States across the U.S. are banning TikTok on government devices. It’s time for Joe Biden and the Democrats to help do the same.”

The concerns over TikTok have existed since at least 2020 as the China-owned social media platform can reportedly be accessed by the nation’s Communist government, making the app a national security issue.

FBI Director Christopher Wray warned about the dangers of TikTok earlier in December, including “the possibility that the Chinese government could use it to control data collection on millions of users or control the recommendation algorithm, which could be used for influence operations if they so chose, or to control software on millions of devices, which gives the opportunity to potentially technically compromise personal devices.”

The proposed legislation includes exemptions for national security, law enforcement, and research purposes, according to the Associated Press. The ban also appears to exclude members of Congress, as some lawmakers have their own personal TitkTok accounts that would not fall under the ban.

A ban from government devices at the federal level would add to a growing number of states that have announced prohibitions against downloading or using TikTok on state-issued devices.

At least 14 states have approved such restrictions, including Alabama, Iowa, and North Dakota last week. Nebraska Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts was the first state leader to ban the app on state devices in August 2020. Other states joined in recent weeks after South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem announced a ban in her state.

Former President Donald Trump signed an executive order to ban TikTok in 2020, though it was never implemented. President Joe Biden revoked the Trump order, replacing it with his own directive in June 2021.

In addition to the proposed ban on government devices, a group of bipartisan lawmakers is also leading a drive to ban the use of TikTok nationwide. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced the legislation in the Senate, while Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) introduced companion legislation in the House.

TikTok is one of the nation’s most popular apps, with an estimated 80 million monthly active users in the U.S. The app’s users are predominantly younger, with 80% between the ages of 16-34. Worldwide, TikTok claims more than one billion users, with the app downloaded over 210 million times in the U.S.

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