Senate bill would give Commerce secretary power to ban TikTok as a ‘security threat’

Not only do House Representatives want the federal government to ban TikTok. A bipartisan coalition of senators has introduced a bill that would give the commerce secretary the power to ban TikTok and other foreign technologies seen as a threat to national security. The potential law would be limited to emerging technology from China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia and Venezuela.

The group is led by Senators Mark Warner and John Thune. It features prominent politicians from both parties, including Joe Manchin and Mitt Romney.

The move comes just days after the House Foreign Affairs Committee introduced a bill, the Deterring Technology Adversaries of America Act (DATA), to a partisan vote. A House vote is expected later in March. This measure is more targeted and aims to prevent Americans’ data from falling into the hands of the Chinese government. In December, a section of the blanket spending bill banned TikTok from federal government machines after similar restrictions in multiple states.

In all cases, the concern remains the same. Critics worry that the Chinese government could use TikTok to collect data on Americans and spread propaganda. TikTok has repeatedly denied cooperating with Chinese officials, and has tried to allay concerns by moving data and traffic to US-based servers. Oracle, which operates US servers, is reviewing TikTok’s algorithms and moderation systems.

There is no certainty that the Senate will pass his bill and align it with the equivalent in the House of Representatives. The Minister of Commerce is also not guaranteed to exercise power if granted. However, the introduction of the bill adds pressure to TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew as he testifies before the House of Representatives on March 23. He will fight before Congress who will be more determined to curb his company’s business.

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