Nancy Pelosi pushes to add ban on TikTok in $1.7 TRILLION spending bill


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has thrown her weight behind efforts to ban TikTok from federal employees’ phones by including the provision in an omnibus spending bill she hopes to pass by the end of next week.

It is the latest in a growing move to limit the reach of the Chinese-owned video sharing app, amid fears the country’s communist rulers could access data. 

Pelosi’s spokesperson told Reuters that she supports including the TikTok provision in legislation to fund the government that the House of Representatives is due to take up next week.

If passed, the  $1.7 trillion spending bill will funds the government until the end of Sept. 30, 2023.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has thrown her weight behind efforts to ban TikTok from federal employees' phones by including the provision in an omnibus spending bill

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has thrown her weight behind efforts to ban TikTok from federal employees’ phones by including the provision in an omnibus spending bill

The popular video sharing app TikTok has triggered warnings its Chinese owners could pass data on to the Beijing government, or even take control of phones

The popular video sharing app TikTok has triggered warnings its Chinese owners could pass data on to the Beijing government, or even take control of phones

F.B.I. Director Christopher Wray recently told lawmakers the app could be used to take control of phones.

But the app’s owners, ByteDance, say the fears are unfounded.

Even so, the Senate on Wednesday voted to ban the video app from government-owned devices, supporting a bill sponsored by Republican Senator Josh Hawley to protect federal employees.

Seven states have banned the app — or are in the process of banning the app — from employees phones.

And several federal agencies, including the White House and the Pentagon, have barred it from government-owned devices.  

Some lawmakers want to go even further. This week members of Congress introduced legislation that would ban TikTok from the U.S. entirely. 

The Averting the National Threat of Internet Surveillance, Oppressive Censorship and Influence, and Algorithmic Learning by the Chinese Communist Party Act (ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act) would ban all operations by any social media company in or under the influence of China and Russia.

'The federal government has yet to take a single meaningful action to protect American users from the threat of TikTok,' said Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida as he launched the bill

‘The federal government has yet to take a single meaningful action to protect American users from the threat of TikTok,’ said Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida as he launched the bill

It has the backing of Republicans as well as Democrats, in a sign of how the app has triggered alarm across party lines that Chinese spies can access American smartphones.  

Sen. Marco Rubi (R-Florida), who introduced the bill in Senate, said Chinese law meant the app’s owner, ByteDance, was required to hand data to the Chinese Communist Party. 

‘The federal government has yet to take a single meaningful action to protect American users from the threat of TikTok,’ he said. 

‘This isn’t about creative videos — this is about an app that is collecting data on tens of millions of American children and adults every day. We know it’s used to manipulate feeds and influence elections. We know it answers to the People’s Republic of China.’

The Beijing-based owners of the app are already locked in dispute with the federal government over how it uses and stores user data, amid concerns that it could be deployed in influence operations. 

Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, who co-sponsored the bill in the House, said: ‘TikTok is digital fentanyl that’s addicting Americans, collecting troves of their data, and censoring their news.’

Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Illinois)

Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wisconsin)

Companion legislation was introduced in the House by Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois (left) and Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, who both sit on the House intelligence committee

The Averting the National Threat of Internet Surveillance, Oppressive Censorship and Influence, and Algorithmic Learning by the Chinese Communist Party Act (ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act) would ban all operations by any social media company in or under the influence of China and Russia.

The Averting the National Threat of Internet Surveillance, Oppressive Censorship and Influence, and Algorithmic Learning by the Chinese Communist Party Act (ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act) would ban all operations by any social media company in or under the influence of China and Russia.

While Republicans have often been loudest to warn of the digital threat from China, the bill is co-sponsored by Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois.

‘At a time when the Chinese Communist Party and our other adversaries abroad are seeking any advantage they can find against the United States through espionage and mass surveillance, it is imperative that we do not allow hostile powers to potentially control social media networks that could be easily weaponized against us,’ he said. 

‘The bipartisan ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act is a strong step in protecting our nation from the nefarious digital surveillance and influence operations of totalitarian regimes.’ 

Their move follows months of heightened scrutiny of the app. 

FBI Director Wray told Congress last month that the Chinese government could use it to ‘control data collection of millions of users or control the recommendation algorithm, which can be used for influence operations.’

He has also warned that it could be used to hijack other software on the phone, potentially allowing it to collect and send more data. 

Such is the level of concern that six states have barred employees from downloading the app.

On Friday, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte said the state was joining New Hampshire, Wyoming, Georgia, North Dakota, Idaho and Iowa in taking action.

‘Use of TikTok poses a significant risk to the security of our state and Montanans’ sensitive data,’ he tweeted. 

‘Effective immediately, I have prohibited the use of TikTok on state devices, while connected to the state network, and to conduct state business.’



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