White House backs new Senate bill granting power to ban TikTok

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A bipartisan group of US senators on Tuesday introduced a bill that would give President Joe Biden's administration the authority to ban TikTok and other foreign technology considered to be threats to national security.

The Restrict Act would give Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo the authority to “identify, deter, disrupt, prevent, prohibit and mitigate transactions” of foreign technology. The legislation would apply to technology from China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, Venezuela and Cuba.

TikTok, which is owned by China's Bytedance, is not explicitly mentioned in the bill, although the app has found itself in the crosshairs of US politicians.

“Today, the threat that everyone is talking about is TikTok and how it could enable surveillance by the Chinese Communist Party, or facilitate the spread of malign influence campaigns in the US,” Senator Mark Warner said.

Mr Warner and 11 other senators introduced the bipartisan bill on Tuesday. “I think it's a national security threat,” he told CNBC, referring to TikTok, which is used by more than 100 million Americans.

The White House said President Joe Biden would sign the Bill were it to pass Congress, the first time his administrations has weighed in on dealing with TikTok.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the Restrict Act would allow the US to “prevent certain foreign governments from exploiting technology services” that are deemed to be risks to national security.

Mr Sullivan said the bipartisan bill would help the US to address today's national security threats “and also prevent such risks from arising in the future”.

The introduction of the Restrict Act comes a week after a bill giving Mr Biden the power to ban TikTok was approved along party lines within a US House committee.

Meanwhile, a National Security Agency official expressed concerns with TikTok.

One such concern is “the data they have”, NSA Director Paul Nakasone said during a Senate committee hearing. “Secondly is the algorithm and the control of who has the algorithm,” Mr Nakasone said.

TikTok has come under pressure in the US over fears that national security could be compromised if the Chinese government receives users' data.

TikTok chief executive Shou Zi Chew is scheduled to testify before Congress on March 23.
Source: https://www.thenationalnews.com

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