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Pelosi Undecided if US House Will Take Up TikTok Government Device Ban Bill

Published: December 15, 2022
General view of the TikTok building, in Culver City, California on Nov. 17, 2020. (Image: VALERIE MACON / AFP) (Photo by VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday she had yet to decide whether the U.S. House of Representatives will join the Senate in backing legislation to bar federal government employees from using Chinese-owned TikTok on government-owned devices.

“We’re checking with the administration – just in terms of language – not in terms of being opposed to the idea,” Pelosi told reporters a day after the Senate vote. “I don’t know that that will be on the agenda next week, but it’s very, very important.”

The House would need to pass the Senate bill before next week’s expected end of the congressional session. It would then go to President Joe Biden, who could sign it into law.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp said Thursday the state is joining North Dakota, Idaho and Iowa this week and a growing number of U.S. states in banning ByteDance Ltd-owned TikTok from state-owned devices amid concerns that data could be passed on to the Chinese government. Kemp’s order also bars the use of Tencent Holdings’ WeChat app and Russian-owned Telegram on government devices.

The U.S. government Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a powerful national security body, has for months sought to reach a national security agreement to protect the data of TikTok’s more than 100 million users, but it appears no deal will be reached before year’s end.

TikTok said on Thursday the Senate bill “does nothing to advance U.S. national security interests.”

It said it hoped that rather than continuing down that road, Republican Senator Josh Hawley, who sponsored the Senate bill, would urge the Biden administration to advance an agreement that would actually address his concerns.

Democratic Senator Dick Durbin urged Americans to stop using TikTok. “Maybe America has finally reached the point where we realize that our innermost secrets, privacy, security are at stake here,” Durbin told MSNBC.

Many federal agencies, including the Defense, Homeland Security and State departments, already ban TikTok from government-owned devices.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio on Tuesday unveiled bipartisan legislation to ban TikTok altogether in the United States. At a hearing last month, FBI Director Chris Wray said TikTok’s U.S. operations raise national security concerns.

In 2020, Republican then-President Donald Trump attempted to block new users from downloading TikTok and ban other transactions that would have effectively blocked the app’s use in the United States but lost a series of court battles over the measure.

By Reuters (Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Howard Goller and Jonathan Oatis)