WASHINGTON — Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., has announced he plans to introduce legislation Wednesday that would ban the popular social media app TikTok in the United States.

In a tweet Tuesday, Hawley said that TikTok is “China’s backdoor into Americans’ lives. It threatens our children’s privacy as well as their mental health. Last month Congress banned it on all government devices. Now I will introduce legislation to ban it nationwide.”

Hawley said in a separate tweet he plans to unveil the measure on Wednesday.

While the bill likely won’t pass through the current divided Congress, a separate measure banning TikTok on some government devices, wrapped into the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill, has already been enacted. The provision, which President Joe Biden signed into law last month, banned the app and other applications by TikTok’s Beijing-based parent company, ByteDance, on all executive branch devices. It did not, however, apply to members of Congress and their staffs.

In late December, Catherine L. Szpindor, the chief administrative officer of the House, ordered lawmakers and staffers to delete TikTok from any House-issued mobile phones and prohibited them from downloading the app on such devices.

The directive did not apply to the Senate, where some members, including Marco Rubio, R-Fla., had also called for the app to be completely banned in the U.S.

Rubio in December introduced a Senate bill to ban TikTok in the U.S., and a companion measure was introduced in the House by Reps. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., and Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill.

The lawmakers said at the time that their bill aimed to protect Americans from foreign adversaries who might use certain social media to surveil Americans, learn sensitive data about them, and spread influence campaigns or propaganda.

Under that measure, the president could impose sanctions on TikTok and other social media companies to prevent commercial operation in the U.S. The bill would have to be reintroduced in the current Congress.

After the November midterm elections, FBI Director Christopher Wray warned congressional lawmakers that the Chinese government could use TikTok to control users’ devices, for influence or espionage purposes.

Several states have also taken steps to prohibit the use of TikTok on government devices. In recent months, many public universities have restricted access to TikTok on school computers, mobile phones and Wi-Fi, in accordance with executive orders in those states banning the app on government-owned devices and networks.





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