The United States Senate unanimously passed a bill that prohibits federal employees from using the social media app TikTok on government-issued devices.
Authorities have raised security concerns about the video-sharing platform because it is owned by China-based company ByteDance. The vote follows a promise by President Trump to shut down the app entirely in the US by September 15, unless it sells its US operations to Microsoft or another US-based company.
“I am encouraged by the bipartisan support that we have seen in this body to hold the Communist Party of China accountable and that includes … holding accountable corporations that would simply follow China’s orders,” said Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Who sponsored the bill, said in a statement.
The Senate bill follows a House vote last month that passes similar legislation by Rep. Ken Buck (R-Co.) That prohibits federal employees from downloading the app on government-issued devices.
A final version combining the two bills will be moved to Trump’s desk to become law.
“We support Congress’s intent to protect government-issued devices from the privacy and security risks inherent in certain third-party applications,” said a White House official when asked if Trump would support the bill.
A TikTok spokeswoman said promoting a secure app experience that protects users’ privacy is the company’s top priority. ByteDance has said that it has never provided TikTok user data to the Chinese government and that it would not do so if requested by officials.
A growing number of countries have started considering or implementing app bans at their Beijing-based operations, including India, Australia and Japan.
ByteDance Chief Executive Zhang Yiming told employees in a leaked email on Monday that he considers a forced sale to be “unreasonable” and said the United States is ultimately seeking a ban.
“But this is not their goal, not even what they want,” he wrote. “Their real goal is to achieve a complete ban.”