(CTN News) – On Tuesday, a group of senators filed a bill that would grant the Trump administration expanded authority to ban foreign technology that pose a threat to national security. If passed, the government would be able to ban the Chinese-owned video app TikTok and others like it.
More than 100 million Americans use the app, which is owned by Chinese firm ByteDance. The endorsement gives momentum to efforts by many senators to prohibit the programme.
Bill would give Commerce Department power to ban technologies posing national security risks
Democratic Senator Mark Warner, who chairs the Intelligence Committee, stated that the bill would give the Commerce Department the authority to apply limitations up to and including a ban on TikTok and other technologies that pose hazards to national security.
He added that technologies developed in countries like China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, and Cuba would also be subject to this.
Taking a stand against the legislation, TikTok said, “Any U.S. prohibition on TikTok is a ban on the export of American culture and values to the billion-plus people who use our service worldwide.”
The legislation would charge Gina Raimondo, the current Secretary of Commerce, with identifying and resolving foreign risks to ICT products and services. The office of Raimondo did not provide any information.
TikTok criticizes proposed ban, citing threat to American culture and values
Concerns that the Chinese government may gain access to users’ information have led to increased backlash against TikTok, which is seen as a threat to Western security.
Warner and Republican John Thune are spearheading the bill’s introduction in the Senate, which is co-sponsored by Democrats Tammy Baldwin, Joe Manchin, Michael Bennet, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Martin Heinrich and Republicans Deb Fischer, Jerry Moran, Dan Sullivan, Susan Collins, and Mitt Romney.
Warner argued that the government should do more to clarify the nature of the threats posed by TikTok to national security. Warner remarked that “the government will have to reveal its hand” regarding the severity of the threat posed by this situation.
When asked about the bill, White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan said it “would increase our ability to address discrete risks posed by individual transactions and systemic threats posed by specific classes of transactions involving countries of concern in critical technological sectors.”
In a statement, he expressed his desire to continue working with both Democrats and Republicans on the bill and urged Congress to move swiftly to get it on the President’s desk.
In another statement, Raimondo said that she “welcomes this legislative framework for addressing these dangers and preserving Citizens’ safety and national security” and that she would work with senators “to get this legislation through Congress.”
The CEO of TikTok, Shou Zi Chew, is scheduled to testify before Congress on March 23.
Rubio pushes for stronger bill to ban TikTok entirely
On Tuesday, Senator Marco Rubio told Fox News that Warner’s plan doesn’t go far enough, despite the fact that it “takes steps” towards banning TikTok in the United States.
We need to adopt a law that outlaws TikTok, Rubio remarked. “I have the only bill in both houses that does that, and it has support from both parties.”
After President Trump’s efforts to ban TikTok and the Chinese messaging app WeChat were thwarted by judges in 2020, Republican Representative Michael McCaul introduced legislation last week to give Vice President Joe Biden the authority to prohibit TikTok along party lines.
Democrats fought against McCaul’s plan because they felt it had not been given the time and consideration it deserved through debate and consultation with experts.
It took 18 months to pass certain significant measures targeting at China, such as a semiconductors funding bill. McCaul has expressed optimism that the House may vote on his legislation this month.
CFIUS previously recommended ByteDance divest TikTok over national security concerns
TikTok and CFIUS have been in talks over data security measures for almost two years. TikTok has denied any involvement in any allegations of eavesdropping and claimed that it had invested over $1.5 billion on data security measures.
On Tuesday, TikTok claimed that the proposed deal it has been working on with CFIUS for over two years was the quickest and most thorough method to address any national security concerns regarding TikTok.
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