The Senate passed legislation to ban the popular social media platform TikTok from government devices.
The move is designated to limit perceived information-security risks coming from the social media app.
The No TikTok on Government Devices Act was passed by unanimous consent. It was authored by Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley.
It is the latest step that lawmakers have rushed to take against the short-form video app.
TikTok last year became the most visited online site, surpassing Facebook and Google for the number one slot. More than a billion people use the app around the world.
Officials in the U.S. fear that TikTok’s user data could end up in the hands of the Chinese government. TikTok is owned by a Chinese company, ByteDance, and officials say the Chinese government has influence over this company.
A companion bill was introduced last year in the House of Representatives by Colorado Republican Rep. Ken Buck. This has yet to be approved by the House Oversight Committee.
TikTok rebuked the new legislation.
“Once again, Sen. Hawley has moved forward with legislation to ban TikTok on government devices, a proposal which does nothing to advance U.S. national security interests,” a spokesperson for TikTok said in a statement.
The latest legislative action comes as TikTok and the U.S. government have been negotiating a deal that may allow the app to keep serving U.S. users.
There have been years of closed-door talks between TikTok and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. But recently there have been reports that these negotiations have hit delays.
There has been a swarm of bills proposed around the platform. Just this week on Tuesday, U.S. lawmakers led by Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio introduced a bill to ban TikTok in the United States more generally, along with other apps based in, or under the “substantial influence” of, countries that are considered foreign adversaries, including China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela.
In the past two weeks, at least seven states have said that they will be banning public employees and government employees from using the app on government-issued devices. This includes Alabama, Maryland, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, and Texas. They join Nebraska, which banned TikTok from government devices two years ago in 2020.