U.S. House panel to vote next month on possible TikTok ban

WASHINGTON, Jan 27 (Reuters) – The House Foreign Affairs Committee plans to hold a vote next month on a bill aimed at blocking the use of popular Chinese social media app TikTok in the United States United, the committee confirmed on Friday.

The move, planned by the panel’s chairman’s representative, Michael McCaul, a Republican, would be aimed at giving the White House the legal tools to ban TikTok over US national security concerns.

“The concern is that this app gives the Chinese government a backdoor into our phones,” McCaul told Bloomberg News, which reported ahead of the vote’s timing.

In 2020, then-President Donald Trump tried to block new users from downloading TikTok and ban other transactions that would have effectively blocked use of the app in the United States, but lost a series of court battles over the measure.

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The Biden administration in June 2021 formally abandoned that effort. Then in December, Republican Senator Marco Rubio introduced bipartisan legislation to ban TikTok, which would also block all transactions by any social media company in or under the influence of China and Russia.

But a ban on the ByteDance-owned short video app popular with teenagers would face significant hurdles in Congress to pass and would need 60 votes in the Senate.

For three years, TikTok, which has more than 100 million US users, has been trying to assure Washington that the personal data of US citizens cannot be accessed and that its content cannot be manipulated by Communist Party of China or anyone else under the influence of Beijing.

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TikTok did not immediately respond Friday, but said ahead of congressional efforts to ban it: “It is troubling that instead of encouraging the administration to conclude its national security review of TikTok, some members of Congress have decided push for a politically motivated ban that will do nothing to advance America’s national security.”

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a powerful national security body, in 2020 ordered ByteDance to divest TikTok over fears that US user data could be passed on to the Chinese government.

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CFIUS and TikTok have been in talks for months with the goal of reaching a national security agreement to protect the data of US TikTok users.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declined to comment on the bill on Friday. “It’s under (CFIUS) review, so I’m not going to go into detail about that,” Jean-Pierre said.

Last month, Biden signed legislation that included a ban on federal employees using or downloading TikTok on government-owned devices. More than 25 US states have also banned the use of TikTok on state-owned devices.

Reporting by David Shepardson, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien

Our standards: the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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