It has been over four years since (then) President Donald Trump waged war on TikTok. The fallout of Trump essentially banning the app was parent company ByteDance partnering with Oracle to bring the TikTok algorithm to the U.S. Now lawmakers are once again targeting the popular social media platform, with the U.S. Senate voting to force government employees to remove the app.
Specifically, a new bill was approved Wednesday that will prevent federal employees from installing and/or using TikTok on government-owned hardware. Before it becomes law, The bill (PDF) must now get approval by the US House of Representatives.
This will need to happen before the end of the current congress sessions, which will means by the end of next week.
Agencies in the United States have long had concerns about ByteDance and the possibility of the Chinese company sharing user data with the government in China. The bill was introduced by Republican Senator Josh Hawley in 2021, with him saying the app is “a major security risk to the United States, and it has no place on government devices.”
In response to the Senate approval, Hilary McQuaide, a spokesperson for TikTok, said:
“We're disappointed that so many states are enacting policies based on false, politically-charged claims about TikTok. It's unfortunate that the many state agencies, offices, and universities that use TikTok in those states will no longer be able to use it to build communities and connect with constituents.”
In July 2022, an executive order signed by Trump stopped ByteDance from handling any transactions in the United States. Microsoft registered its interest in the company shortly after. However, ByteDance was reluctant to sell its US business completely and instead partnered with Oracle to deliver its source code in the country.
What's clear is, Microsoft's interest was serious. In fact, the company was meeting with ByteDance before Trump's order, going as far as to sign a nonbinding agreement.
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