Biden could have power to ban Chinese-owned TikTok under new Senate bill
About 100 million Americans use TikTok
A bipartisan group of 12 U.S. Senators introduced a bill on Tuesday that would give President Biden the ability to ban TikTok and other technology platforms owned by foreign adversaries.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., said that TikTok is not the only threat from hostile nations, noting that the U.S. has had to fend off telecommunications equipment from China's Huawei and antivirus software from Russia's Kaspersky Lab.
"We lack, at this moment in time, a holistic interagency whole-of-government approach," Warner said at a press conference on Tuesday. "So instead of playing Whac-A-Mole on Huawei one day, ZTE the next, Kaspersky, TikTok, we need a more comprehensive approach to evaluating and mitigating these threats posed by these foreign technologies from these adversarial nations."
The Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology (RESTRICT) Act calls for the Commerce Department to "identify, deter, disrupt, prevent, prohibit, and mitigate" technologies from foreign adversaries that pose "undue or unacceptable risk to national security."
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White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan praised the bill, saying that it would prevent hostile nations from surveilling the U.S. with exploitative technology.
"This legislation would provide the U.S. government with new mechanisms to mitigate the national security risks posed by high-risk technology businesses operating in the United States," Sullivan said in a statement.
Lawmakers have been raising the alarm about TikTok in recent months, warning that the company is subject to Chinese national security laws requiring it to turn over data to the state.
Dozens of Republican and Democratic governors have banned TikTok on government devices, while the White House instructed federal agencies last month to delete the app from all government devices and systems within 30 days.
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Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a bill last week that would give Biden the power to ban TikTok, but it's unclear when the legislation will go to the House floor.
TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.