Senate Unanimously Passes the ‘No TikTok On Government Devices Act’ Amid Continued User-Data Scrutiny

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Amid heightened scrutiny over the security of user data on TikTok, the U.S. Senate has unanimously passed legislation that would ban the ByteDance-owned app from government devices.

Senator Josh Hawley, who introduced the measure back in March of 2020, just recently confirmed the unanimous passage of the bill (aptly entitled the “No TikTok on Government Devices Act”) on social media and in a formal release. In August of 2020, the Senate voted unanimously in favor of the legislation, which didn’t receive a vote in the House.

But lawmakers’ latest show of support for the bill arrives as TikTok grapples with ample security-related criticism and multiple lawsuits. Both the FBI and FCC commissioners have expressed concerns about the privacy of Americans’ data on TikTok – and the overarching national security threat posed by the app – given that the platform is a subsidiary of Beijing-based ByteDance.

(In China, TikTok and ByteDance are required by law to turn over any requested information to the Chinese Communist Party, with reports having indicated earlier in 2022 that U.S. user data had already been accessed on numerous occasions from the nation of about 1.4 billion residents.)

Meanwhile, Texas, South Dakota, Alabama, Utah, Maryland, Georgia, New Hampshire, and Iowa are among the states that have prohibited their employees from using the app, and 15 state attorneys general are demanding that Apple and Google raise their respective app-store ratings of TikTok (which allegedly exposes minors to a substantial amount of explicit content).

Back to the federal level, the bipartisan ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act arrived in the House as well as the Senate earlier this week and would ban TikTok in the States altogether. Before this newer and more effective legislation proceeds through Congress, however, the Senate has voted in favor of barring all federal employees from using the short-form video-sharing app, as initially mentioned.

Though it’s unclear exactly when the legislation will be heard in the House – and whether a vote will take place during the current Congress – Senator Hawley said in a tweet that now’s “the time to act quickly and send this bill to the President’s desk.”

If signed into law, the concise measure would specifically prevent each “employee of the United States” from downloading or using TikTok “on any device issued by the United States or a government corporation.”

Furthermore, the No TikTok on Government Devices Act would extend to all members of Congress, their staff, and any individual employed by “a government corporation,” covering (besides TikTok itself) “any successor application.”