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US TikTok Ban Shifts To Senate Bill That Biden Team May Support

Lawmakers say the measures are intended to counter security threats from apps like TikTok, which they say can be used to gather user data or as tools for propaganda.
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The TikTok logo is displayed on a smartphone in this arranged photograph in London, U.K., on Monday, Aug. 3, 2020. TikTok has become a flash point among rising U.S.-China tensions in recent months as U.S. politicians raised concerns that parent company ByteDance Ltd. could be compelled to hand over American users’ data to Beijing or use the app to influence the 165 million Americans, and more than 2 billion users globally, who have downloaded it.
The TikTok logo is displayed on a smartphone in this arranged photograph in London, U.K., on Monday, Aug. 3, 2020. TikTok has become a flash point among rising U.S.-China tensions in recent months as U.S. politicians raised concerns that parent company ByteDance Ltd. could be compelled to hand over American users’ data to Beijing or use the app to influence the 165 million Americans, and more than 2 billion users globally, who have downloaded it.
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The US is moving closer to restricting access to the popular video-sharing app TikTok, with Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner set to unveil a bill Tuesday that the Biden administration is poised to support, according to people familiar with the issue.

The measure, one of many being proposed in Congress to restrict Bytedance Ltd.’s TikTok but isn’t expected to pinpoint the company by name, would give the US the power to ban or prohibit foreign technologies or companies when necessary, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private deliberations. 

The White House is likely to support the bill, as it would update and codify authorities granted to the Commerce Department through an existing executive order, issued under former president Donald Trump, to manage threats to information and communications technology, according to people familiar with the matter. 

That approach differs from other proposals winding their way through Congress, which would allow President Joe Biden to outright ban TikTok. The Warner bill, however, could be applied to more companies and technologies, and would grant the Commerce Department the authority to scrutinize any threats and decide on remedies. 

Read more: Raimondo Says Biden, Congress Seek to Blunt Risk From China Apps

Lawmakers say the measures are intended to counter security threats from apps like TikTok, which they say can be used to gather user data or as tools for propaganda. Last week, legislation authorizing the US to ban TikTok in the US advanced through the House Foreign Affairs Committee, led by Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican.

Separately, the company’s operations in the US are under investigation by the multi-agency Committee on Foreign Investment in the US, known as Cfius, which is led by the Treasury Department. The company and the Biden administration have so far been unable to reach a mitigation agreement that resolves the government’s national security concerns. 

Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Warner, a Virginia Democrat, had called it “a broad bipartisan bill” that would be co-sponsored by Republican John Thune of South Dakota.

The text of the Warner bill has yet to be released. CNBC reported earlier that it would be made public Tuesday and that Warner and Thune would hold a briefing at 3 p.m. Washington time. 

ByteDance has sought to distance the service from its Chinese roots, including by hosting user data in Singapore, though threats of a ban in the US have lingered for years. President Donald Trump was nearly able to force the sale of TikTok’s US operations to Microsoft Corp. and Oracle Corp. before his term expired.

TikTok Hawks in Congress Weigh Options to Restrict App From US

TikTok Inc. Chief Operating Officer Vanessa Pappas said during a Senate hearing in September that the company has strict controls over access to data and where it’s stored, and that the company wouldn’t give that data to the Chinese government.

--With assistance from .

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