US Congress moves to ban TikTok from government devices


A new spending bill in the US Congress proposes to ban the Chinese video-sharing platform TikTok from most government devices amid spying and censorship concerns surrounding the app.

The $1.7 trillion bill unveiled on Tuesday includes requirements to ban most uses of TikTok or other apps created by the platform’s owner ByteDance Ltd, the Associated Press reported.

Although the app is popular among nearly two-thirds of teens in the US, there has been growing bipartisan concern in the US that Beijing may use some of its regulatory power over Chinese companies to control American user data.

Earlier this month, Maryland banned its government agencies from using TikTok and other Chinese and Russian platforms following reports alleging that China’s state-backed hackers stole millions of Covid relief funds in the US.

NBC reported earlier this month that Chinese government-linked hacking group APT41 stole at least $20m in Covid relief benefits, including from small business administration loans as well as unemployment insurance funds in over a dozen US states.

Over the following days, several other US states like Texas, Georgia and Utah banned state agencies from using TikTok on government-issued devices as well.

“TikTok harvests vast amounts of data from its users’ devices – including when, where, and how they conduct internet activity – and offers this trove of potentially sensitive information to the Chinese government,” Mr Abbott said in a letter sent to Lt Gov Dan Patrick, Texas Speaker Dade Phelan and state agency leaders.

A TikTok spokesperson recently said in a statement that the company would continue to brief members of the US Congress on its plans “well underway” to “further secure our platform in the US”.

“It is troubling that rather than encouraging the administration to conclude its national security review of TikTok, some members of Congress have decided to push for a politically-motivated ban that will do nothing to advance the national security of the US,” the spokesperson said.

Several US agencies, including Homeland Security and the Department of Defense, have already banned TikTok from government-owned devices.

Former US president Donald Trump also attempted to bring a series of policy changes that would have blocked TikTok’s use in the country, but lost a series of court battles over the move.

Despite these challenges, the platform overtook Google last year to become the most popular site on the planet, beating tech giants Amazon and Facebook.

Source: The Epoch Time