TikTok ban for gov devices included in massive omnibus bill

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The text of the massive 4,115-page omnibus bill for funding the government came out overnight, and it includes a ban on the social media app TikTok for government devices.

The measure, known as the No TikTok on Government Devices Act, prohibits use of the social media app on government-issued devices. It was pushed heavily by Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., who introduced it alongside Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Rick Scott, R-Fla., and Tom Cotton, R-Ark.

"Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget … shall develop standards and guidelines for executive agencies requiring the removal of any covered application from information technology," the bill says.

The bill carves out "exceptions for law enforcement activities, national security interests and activities, and security researchers," while noting that for any use falling under those exceptions, government agencies must "develop and document risk mitigation actions for such use."

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"TikTok will soon be BANNED on all government devices," Hawley tweeted Tuesday morning.

The inclusion of the TikTok ban in the omnibus bill comes days after a standalone bill passed unanimously in the Senate.

"TikTok is a Trojan Horse for the Chinese Communist Party. 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," Hawley said in a statement at the time. "States across the U.S. are banning TikTok on government devices. It’s time for Joe Biden and the Democrats to help do the same."

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., asks a question during the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Senate Office Building on April 28, 2021 in Washington, DC. Ketanji Brown Jackson, nominee to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the District of Col (Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images / Getty Images)

Republicans like Hawley are not the only ones to publicly support a government TikTok ban. After the Senate passed its ban, outgoing Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi came out in favor of including it in the omnibus.

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TikTok is owned by the Beijing-based company ByteDance. The omnibus bill's measure extends the ban to "any successor application or service developed or provided by ByteDance Limited or an entity owned by ByteDance Limited."

TikTok slammed Congress and the Biden administration after the ban passed in the Senate.

"It is troubling that rather than encouraging the administration to conclude its national security review of TikTok, some members of Congress have decided to push for politically motivated bans that will do nothing to advance the national security of the United States," a TikTok spokesperson said Friday.

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Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in November warned that the Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok poses "legitimate national security concerns" to the United States. FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before the House Homeland Security Committee that he is "extremely concerned" about the threats posed by TikTok. 

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Wray explained that those concerns "include the possibility that the Chinese government could use it to control data collection on millions of users or control the recommendation algorithm, which could be used for influence operations if they so chose, or to control software on millions of devices, which gives the opportunity to potentially technically compromise personal devices."

The governors of a number of states including Virginia, New Hampshire, Texas, and Georgia have already banned TikTok from government devices.

Fox Business' Brooke Singman and Eric Revell contributed to this report. 

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