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U.S. Senate bans TikTok on government devices

The U.S. Senate on Thursday unanimously approved a bill from Sen. Josh Hawley banning federal employees from using video-sharing app TikTok on government-issued devices, amid threats from the White House to ban the company.

The app has come under fire from U.S. lawmakers and the Trump administration over national security concerns due to China’s ByteDance owning the technology. The company currently faces a deadline of Sept. 15 to either sell its U.S. operations to Microsoft, or face an outright ban.

Under a Chinese law introduced in 2017, companies have an obligation to support and co-operate in the country’s national intelligence work.

“I’m encouraged by the bipartisan support we have seen in this body to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable and that includes … holding accountable those corporations who would just do China’s bidding,” Republican senator Hawley said in a statement.

“And, if I have anything to say about it, we won’t be stopping here.”

Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to bar federal employees from downloading the app on government-issued devices as part of a proposal, offered by Rep. Ken Buck.

With passage in the House and approval by the Senate, the prohibition is expected to soon become law in the United States.

A TikTok spokesperson said its growing U.S. team has no higher priority than promoting a safe app experience that protects user privacy.

On Wednesday, TikTok said it was working with experts from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to “protect against foreign influence” and fact-check potential misinformation about the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

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