Wednesday, February 1, 2023
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Senate Passes Bill to Block TikTok on Government Devices

TikTok has previously said it has never shared U.S. user data with the Chinese government and wouldn’t if asked.

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AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday passed a bill that would ban federal employees from downloading TikTok. It’s another public rebuke to the Chinese-owned video-sharing app but prospects for a full ban on TikTok’s operations in the U.S. still look uncertain. 

The bill was passed by unanimous consent after its introduction by Republican lawmakers citing concerns about TikTok’s owner, Beijing-based ByteDance, and its links with the Chinese Communist Party. 

ByteDance didn’t respond to a Barron’s request for comment early on Thursday. A TikTok spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal the bill “does nothing to advance U.S. national security interests.” TikTok has previously said it has never shared U.S. user data with the Chinese government and wouldn’t if asked.

Coming soon after statements by Federal Communications Commission member Brendan Carr that the U.S. government should ban TikTok, as reported by CNN last month, the Senate bill is another blow to the company as it tries to negotiate a national-security agreement with the Biden administration. 

However, shareholders in
Meta
(ticker: META) or
Snap
(SNAP) hoping the bill paves the way for a full TikTok ban in the U.S. and the removal of a competitor might be disappointed. 

The Senate already passed a similar bill prohibiting TikTok on government devices in the last Congress, which then failed to move forward in the House.

Meanwhile, the Democrats retaining control of the Senate in the midterm elections has lessened the pressure on the Biden administration to take controversial steps against one of Americans’ favorite social-media apps. Politicians might also hope competition partly takes care of the problem as Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts build market share in the short-form video space.

Write to Adam Clark at adam.clark@barrons.com

Credit: marketwatch.com

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