US senator introduces bipartisan bill to ban TikTok nationwide
A new bipartisan Senate bill introduced on Tuesday has brought a TikTok ban in the US closer than it has ever been. The bill introduced by Senator Mark Warner from Virginia would give the Secretary of Commerce the power to ban technology companies based in foreign adversary nations. The bill was endorsed by the White House.
Why does this story matter?
- Recently, lawmakers in the West have escalated their efforts to ban ByteDance-owned popular short-form video app TikTok. The reason behind the antagonism toward TikTok is its Chinese connection.
- Many fear that TikTok and its parent might put sensitive user data in the hands of the Chinese government. TikTok has tried to distance itself from ByteDance, but that hasn't worked out so far.
The bill names six countries
The new bill empowers the Secretary of Commerce to take action against foreign technologies and companies deemed a national security risk. Although it does not explicitly mention TikTok, it names six adversarial countries, namely China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia, and Venezuela. The bill does not just target TikTok but every foreign company or app that threatens national security.
The legislation is called the 'RESTRICT Act'
The Warner bill is dubbed the RESTRICT Act, which stands for Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology. It gives the US government power to "deter, disrupt, prevent, prohibit, investigate, or otherwise mitigate" any service they think is threatening. The service in question must have access to the personal data of over one million US persons.
US needs a comprehensive approach to mitigate threats: Warren
"Instead of playing whack-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," said Warner about the bill's wide-ranging approach. "This competition with China around who dominates technology domains, that really is where the nexus of national security lies going forward."
White House urged Congress to pass the bill quickly
The White House has thrown its support behind the bill. The bill "would strengthen our ability to address discrete risks posed by individual transactions, and systemic risks by certain classes of transactions involving countries of concern," said Jake Sullivan, White House national security advisor. He urged Congress to act "quickly to send it to the president's desk."
TikTok criticized the bill
TikTok, as expected, criticized the measure. "A U.S. ban on TikTok is a ban on the export of American culture and values to the billion-plus people who use our service worldwide," said TikTok's spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter.