The House Foreign Affairs Committee has voted to advance a bill that would authorize the President to ban TikTok. The Chinese social media app is used by over 100 million in the U.S.
The so-called DATA Act passed on a party-line vote, with all 24 Republicans in favor and all 16 Democrats opposed. The bill was sponsored by committee chairman, Mike McCaul of Texas. Many of the Democrats claimed that, while they supported a ban on TikTok, they objected to the bill in its current form.
“There’s broad and maybe universal support on this committee to do exactly what this bill attempts to do. But it’s incredibly important that it be done right, and that it be done well,” said Rep. David Cicilline, D-RI.
Republicans said that Democrats’ concerns were overblown and that the bill was urgently needed. “This legislation is the first step in protecting Americans against subversive data collection,” McCaul said.
“The courts have questioned the administration’s authority to sanction TikTok,” he said. “My bill empowers the administration to ban TikTok or any other software application that threatens U.S. national security.”
National security and privacy experts have long cautioned that TikTok collects user data that’s available to China’s Communist Party and that it’s loaded with security vulnerabilities. FBI and the Department of Justice officials have publicly warned about the dangers of using the app, and many states have imposed bans on their own government issued devices.
Former President Donald Trump declared his intention to ban TikTok in 2020. At the time, ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, looked to spin off the app to keep it from being shut down. But Trump left office before his executive order could be implemented. President Biden revoked the executive order when he took office and although he replaced it with his own, it still has not been implemented due to concern over its constitutionality.
On Monday, the administration issued rules that would ban TikTok from all federally-issued devices.