The United States Senate on Thursday unanimously passed a bill banning the Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok on government devices.
“Just passed my bill banning TikTok on government devices on the Senate floor. Unanimous,” Senator Josh Hawley posted a message on Twitter.
The bill will now go to President Donald Trump to be signed into a law, which will prohibit federal employees from downloading or using TikTok – and all other apps developed by its Beijing-based parent company, ByteDance – on any device issued by the US government or government corporation.
Senator Hawley tweeted his special thanks to Senator Rick Scott, his “first and original cosponsor on this legislation, for his leadership and for joining me on the floor to see the bill adopted.” Hawley had introduced the bill first in March this year.
Senator Scott also hailed the Senate for the unanimous verdict, which called as a “a powerful message” to companies run by the Chinese Communist Party.
“Today the US Senate sent a powerful message to all companies controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. Companies like TikTok, under the control of Communist China, are obligated to spy, steal user data and censor any content the Government wishes,” Scott said in a statement he attached along with his message applauding the Senate’s decision.
“I am glad that the Senate agreed to pass my bill with Senator Hawley today to ban this app on government devices, eliminating a threat to US networks and to national security,” he added further.
US President Donald Trump had set September 15 as deadline for TikTok to find a US buyer, failing which he said he will shut down the app in the country.
US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Wednesday said that the Trump administration is “working hard” to protect Americans from the threats of “untrusted vendors” such as Tik Tok and WeChat, which it wants to remove from US app stores like those operated by Apple and Google. Pompeo on Wednesday also announced a five-pronged “Clean Network” that aimed to check potential risks to US national security from China.
Also, US politicians have repeatedly criticised TikTok, owned by Beijing-based startup ByteDance, of being a threat to national security because of its ties to China. China and the US are at loggerheads on a variety of issues including Hong Kong national security law, the South China Sea, the novel coronavirus and trade.
On Monday, Microsoft had announced its decision to pursue discussions with TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, in a matter of weeks, and in any event, completing these discussions no later than September 15.