Just hours after Washington's order to shutter a Chinese consulate in Houston triggered a panicked document fire on the building's balcony, the Senate's Homeland Security Committee voted unanimously on Wednesday to approve a bill (put forth by Missouri Sen Josh Hawley) barring the social media app TikTok from being installed on smartphones used by federal employees on federally-issued devices.
TikTok's Chinese ownership and explosive popularity in the US have led to several companies to reportedly bar employees from installing the app on corporate-issued devices, due to fears - so far mostly unsubstantiated - that Beijing is using the app for widespread spying and data collection, Reuters reports.
In a statement from his press office, Hawley said that many federal agencies have already recognized the threat posed by TikTok.
PASSED OUT OF COMMITTEE! Senator Hawley's legislation to ban TikTok on government devices will now make its way to the Senate floor.— Senator Hawley Press Office (@SenHawleyPress) July 22, 2020
As many federal agencies have already recognized, @tiktok_us is a major security risk and has no place on government devices. https://t.co/85uImqCFRG
The White House has discussed banning the app outright (something that has been ruled out for being too controversial) and the DoJ and FTC have launched investigations into data privacy abuses involving children.
Oh, and WSJ published this bizarre story about the app promoting American teens for pledging fealty to Beijing.
This is insane https://t.co/Rt1t7SxoIc— jsadinolfi (@jsadinolfi) June 17, 2020