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Republican Senators Introduce Bill to Ban TikTok on Government Devices

The TikTok logo is displayed on a smartphone while on the U.S. flag, November 8, 2019. (Dado Ruvic/Reuters)

Two Republican senators proposed legislation Wednesday to ban Chinese-owned TikTok from being used on government devices, the latest move by lawmakers looking to limit China’s access to the data of American users.

Senators Josh Hawley of Missouri and Rick Scott of Florida introduced the No TikTok on Government Devices Act, which would ban federal employees from using the Chinese video platform on phones or other devices issued by the government or a government corporation.

The State Department, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, and Transportation Security Administration have already banned use of the app on devices issued by the agencies.

“TikTok is a major security risk to the United States, and it has no place on government devices,” Hawley said in a statement, noting that the company includes Chinese Communist Party members on its board and has “admitted it collects user data while their app is running in the background — including the messages people send, pictures they share, their keystrokes and location data, you name it.”

“The use of apps like TikTok by federal employees on government devices is a risk to our networks and a threat to our national security,” Scott added. “We should all be very concerned about the threat of Communist China.”

TikTok has denied ties to the Chinese government.

Last month, TikTok, formerly called Musical.ly, settled with the Federal Trade Commission for nearly $6 million over allegations that it illegally collected personal information from children. Since then, Washington has increased scrutiny on the company, which has scrambled to expand its transparency policies.

The app, which allows users to lip-sync to music in short videos, has been downloaded over 123 million times in the U.S.

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