The United States took a significant step on Tuesday to ban the wildly popular app TikTok with a bill backed by the White House, amid growing Western distrust of the Chinese social network.
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement that he “welcomed” the bill, filed the same day, to ban apps like TikTok.
The speech, co-sponsored by a Democratic senator and a Republican senator, “would allow the United States government to prevent certain foreign governments from operating technology services (…) that threaten Americans’ confidential data and our national security,” White House counsel wrote.
– “National Security” –
Many US elected officials consider a site of short and viral videos owned by the Chinese group Bite Dance a threat to national security.
They fear Beijing, along with a growing number of Western governments, could gain access to user data around the world through the app.
TikTok has denied it for years, but tensions between the two countries and, more recently, the downing of a Chinese spy balloon have sparked calls to stand firm against China.
“It is widely accepted that TikTok poses a threat to our national security,” influential Republican Rep. John Thune pleaded in a speech Tuesday, already supported by a dozen senators.
Specifically, the bill, known as the “Restriction Act”, gives the Commerce Minister new powers to ban this use.
– Netflix Heels –
A competing bill introduced in the House of Representatives passed a major milestone in Congress last week.
Banning the app would “confound the freedom of expression” of millions of Americans, protesting TikTok, which claims more than a hundred million users in the US.
The app’s chief executive, Sho Ji Siew, will be questioned by the US Congress later this month.
While the application already outranks YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook in “time spent” by US adults, Netflix is now lagging behind.
In late February, the White House had already ordered federal agencies to ensure that TikTok disappeared from their smartphones within 30 days, under a law approved by Joe Biden in early January.
The European Commission and the Canadian government recently made similar decisions for their civil servants’ mobile phones, and the Danish parliament announced it had asked MPs and staff to remove the app from their devices.
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