The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee voted along party lines to approve legislation on Wednesday that would give President Joe Biden the power to ban the Chinese social media app TikTok and other apps nationwide.
Lawmakers voted 24 to 16 to approve the measure, sponsored by the committee’s GOP chairman, to give the Biden administration new power to ban the Chinese social media app that is believed to pose a national security risk after the parent company, ByteDance, confirmed it was using the social media app to “surveil U.S. journalists in order to try to identify their sources to retaliate against their sources.”
The legislation was introduced last Friday and was fast-tracked by the committee. If passed, the legislation would allow the Biden administration to impose a nationwide TikTok ban under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).
The text of the bill explicitly names TikTok and its Chinese parent company. The legislation would ultimately require Biden to impose penalties against the companies, including a ban if the administration determines the company has knowingly transferred TikTok’s user data to “any foreign person” working for or under the influence of the Chinese government.
Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) told Reuters after the vote to advance the legislation to the full House would be taken up on the House floor to be voted on “fairly soon.” Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), the top Democrat on the committee, recently came out against the legislation, claiming it would “damage our allegiances across the globe, bring more companies into China’s sphere, destroy jobs here in the United States, and undercut core American values of free speech and free enterprise.”
This comes as Chinese-linked platforms, like TikTok, have received a lot of attention for being a problem for the privacy of Americans and a national security threat. The legislation was voted on just one day after the Biden White House issued a directive that gave all government agencies 30 days to eliminate the Chinese social media app TikTok, which is now banned by law from any U.S. government devices.
The Biden administration made the directive after the legislation passed last year, giving the administration 60 days to enact the law after there had been growing national security concerns over what data the Chinese social media app collects and who is able to access the data.