Senate lawmakers on Wednesday passed legislation to ban TikTok from government-issued devices. File photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 15 (UPI) -- Senate lawmakers passed legislation to ban TikTok from government-issued devices Wednesday night, as a growing number of states move to restrict access to the China-based social media platform over fears Beijing may use it to spy on U.S. citizens.
The No TikTok on Government Devices Act by Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., was passed by unanimous consent, sending it on to the House for approval.
"TikTok is a Trojan Horse for the Chinese Communist Party," Hawley said in a statement after his measure was passed. "It's a major security risk to the United States and until it is forced to sever ties with China completely, it has no place on government devices."
The wildly popular video-sharing platform that boasts more than 85 million U.S. users has increasingly come under scrutiny amid fraying relations between Washington, D.C., and Beijing due it to being owned by Chinese company ByteDance.
For years, Republicans have been warning about the national security risks it may pose, but moves to limit access to it have ramped up recently following reports that state U.S. data it holds has been accessed from China.
Last month, FBI Director Christopher Wray admitted the platform poses several security concerns while Federal Communications Commission head Brendan Carr continues to repeatedly voice support for efforts to ban it.
"The speed and bipartisan unanimity demonstrated here by the Senate shows the seriousness with which Republicans and Democrats alike now take the threats posed by TikTok," Carr said following Wednesday's vote.
Sen. Marco Rubio also introduced legislation on Tuesday that goes even further than Hawley's bill and would ban any social media company connected to the governments of China, Russia and several other so-called countries of concern.
"The federal government has yet to take a single meaningful action to protect American users from the threat of TikTok," Rubio said in a statement. "This isn't about creative videos -- this is about an app that is collecting data on tens of millions of American children and adults every day."
States have also taken the issue into its own hands and have moved to keep the social media platform off government-issued devices via executive orders.
The list of states to prohibit TikTok continues to grow with Gov. Brad Little adding Idaho on Wednesday and Gov. Doug Burgum adding North Dakota and Gov. Kim Reynolds adding Iowa on Tuesday.
On Monday, Utah and Alabama banned the service after Texas last week and Maryland, South Carolina and South Dakota before that.
Nebraska banned the smartphone application all the way back in August of 2020.