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TikTok edges closer to a US ban

The House has voted to ban the social network on federal devices.

Published onJuly 21, 2020

Tiktok on the Google Play Store.
  • The House has voted for a bill banning TikTok on federal devices.
  • Politicians are concerned the Chinese social network is a security threat.
  • A Senate bill is expected to pass soon.

The possibility of a US ban on TikTok just became stronger after a House vote in favor of restricting the social network. Politico reports that representatives voted 336-71 in favor of the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes an amendment banning TikTok from all federal devices.

Colorado Representative Ken Buck proposed the addition after calling TikTok a “serious national security threat.” The company’s data collection could theoretically be used in a cyberattack if shared with the Chinese government, Buck said. Most of the US military has already barred TikTok use for similar reasons.

The ban isn’t guaranteed to become law. The Senate still has to pass its version of the Act later this week, and both sides of Congress will have to reconcile their bills before they can receive the President’s signature. It’s possible the ban might be altered or removed in the process.

See also: The best TikTok alternatives for Android

If the Act does forbid TikTok access, though, it could bring the US closer to a wider ban of the service. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said officials were “looking at” banning general access to Chinese social media apps, and a federal-level move against TikTok would provide fuel for that case.

For its part, TikTok has repeatedly maintained that it doesn’t share data from its app with the Chinese government. Its parent company ByteDance runs an equivalent app, Douyin, within China’s borders. TikTok has made a point of hiring an American CEO and otherwise distancing itself from ByteDance’s Chinese operations.

Whatever happens, this adds to pressure on the social media giant. India recently banned TikTok and 59 other apps due to its ongoing dispute with China, and it also cited security as a factor. The video sharing service is already poised to lose billions of dollars from the India ban, and it could only get worse if the US follows suit.

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