Josh Hawley, Rick Scott Submit Bill to Ban Federal Employees from Chinese-Owned TikTok

Josh Hawley
Getty Images/ Chip Somodevilla

Senators Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) introduced a bill this week aiming to ban federal employees from using the Chinese-owned social media app TikTok on their government-issued phones.

Reuters reports that Republican Senators Josh Hawley and Rick Scott recently introduced a bill aimed at banning federal employees from using the Chinese social media app TikTok on their government-issued phones as concerns over national security and the collection and sharing of data on Americans by the Chinese government grow.

The bill has been introduced as several U.S. agencies dealing with national security and intelligence issues including the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security have banned employees from using the app. The bill also attempts to rein in tech firms that Hawley has repeatedly clashed with.

“TikTok is owned by a Chinese company that includes Chinese Communist Party members on its board, and it is required by law to share user data with Beijing,” Hawley said. “As many of our federal agencies have already recognized, TikTok is a major security risk to the United States, and it has no place on government devices,” he added.

TikTok has grown in popularity at a rapid pace amongst U.S. teenagers, approximately 60 percent of TikTok’s 26.5 million monthly active users in the United States are aged between 16 and 24 according to a report from the company last year.

A TikTok spokesperson told Reuters that Hawley’s concerns were unfounded and that the company is increasing its level of communication with lawmakers to explain its policies.

In October of 2019, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) asked the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, to investigate the Chinese-owned social media app TikTok to determine if it poses “national security risks.”

“With over 110 million downloads in the U.S. alone, TikTok is a potential counterintelligence threat we cannot ignore,” wrote Schumer and Cotton, who currently sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee. “Given these concerns, we ask that the Intelligence Community conduct an assessment of the national security risks posed by TikTok and other China-based content platforms operating in the U.S. and brief Congress on these findings.”

The senators stated that they feared that TikTok would be forced to adhere to Chinese laws which would “compel Chinese companies to support and cooperate with intelligence work controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.” Schumer and Cotton worried that TikTok could be a “potential target of foreign influence campaigns like those carried out during the 2016 election on U.S.-based social media platforms.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) also called on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to review the acquisition of social media app Musical.ly by TikTok owner Beijing ByteDance Technology Co. over claims that TikTok is used by the Chinese government to censor certain political content.

Rubio stated in a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that Chinese-owned apps “are increasingly being used to censor content and silence open discussion on topics deemed sensitive by the Chinese Government and Communist Party.” The Treasury secretary heads the CFIUS, which reviews mergers such as that of Musical.ly and TikTok to ensure that they do not damage national security.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or email him at lnolan@breitbart.com

.

Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.