WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs voted unanimously on Wednesday to approve a bill from Republican Senator Josh Hawley that would ban federal employees from using social media app TikTok on government-issued devices.
It will now be taken up by the US Senate for a vote.
National security concerns about TikTok, owned by China’s ByteDance, have gathered steam amid fears that US users’ personal information could fall into the hands of government officials in Beijing.
Under a law introduced in 2017 under Chinese President Xi Jinping, Chinese companies have an obligation to support and cooperate in China’s national intelligence work.
Earlier this week, the House of Representatives voted to bar federal employees from downloading the app on government-issued devices as part of a $741 billion defense policy bill. Lawmakers voted 336-71 to pass the proposal, offered by Representative Ken Buck.
With passage in the House and approval by the Senate Committee, the prohibition could soon become law in the United States.
Top officials in the Trump administration have also said they were considering a broader ban on TikTok and other Chinese-linked apps, and that action may be imminent.
For example, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently said Americans should be cautious in using the app.
TikTok spokeswoman Jamie Favazza said the company’s growing US team has no higher priority than promoting a safe app experience that protects users’ privacy.
“Millions of American families use TikTok for entertainment and creative expression, which we recognize is not what federal government devices are for,” she said.
(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Richard Chang)