White House Reverses Course, Gives Congress Green Light to Pass Bill Banning TikTok

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National security adviser Sullivan urges lawmakers to ‘act quickly’

WASHINGTON—The White House has reversed direction this week, saying it would support a Senate bill that would outlaw TikTok in the United States.

The Biden administration had been at a standstill for two years over how to deal with the threat to national security posed by the Chinese-owned mobile app.

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Tuesday welcomed a bipartisan bill that would allow the Biden administration to ban the video-sharing app.

“This legislation would empower the United States government to prevent certain foreign governments from exploiting technology services operating in the United States in a way that poses risks to Americans’ sensitive data and our national security,” he said in a statement.

“We look forward to continue working with both Democrats and Republicans on this bill, and urge Congress to act quickly to send it to the President’s desk.”

On Tuesday, Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) introduced the measure called the Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology (RESTRICT) Act. The bipartisan bill is the most recent proposal that seeks to fully outlaw the app due to mounting concerns that it could be used to spy on Americans.

Last week, a Republican-sponsored bill with similar goals passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee on a party-line vote.

For the past two years, the Biden administration has been trying to find ways to address the threat posed by TikTok—the most popular mobile app among teens in the country with roughly 100 million monthly active users.

In December 2022, President Joe Biden signed legislation prohibiting federal workers from using TikTok on government devices. In addition, at least 30 states have taken action against the popular app, either by prohibiting its use on government devices or by bringing lawsuits.

By Emel Akan

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