TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — In an email to members and staff serving the U.S. House of Representatives, a copy of which was obtained by NBC News, the House Chief Administrative Officer directed video app TikTok be removed from all devices managed by the House.
The action, according to the obtained email, was initiated by the CAO Office of Cybersecurity, mirroring similar actions required for executive branch agencies by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023. The CAO said the cybersecurity office had deemed the app a high risk amid security concerns.
According to the memo, “beginning immediately”:
- House staff are NOT allowed to download the TikTok app on any House mobile devices.
- TikTok is NOT allowed on House mobile devices. If you have the TikTok app on your House mobile device, you will be contacted to remove it.
The $1.7 trillion budget legislation will keep the U.S. federal government funded through September and included the removal of the TikTok app as well as “any successor application or service developed or provided by ByteDance Limited.”
An outright ban on TikTok in the U.S. has also been proposed by multiple federal lawmakers across both sides of the political aisle, including Florida’s U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott.
“The federal government has yet to take a single meaningful action to protect American users from the threat of TikTok. 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,” Rubio said in a statement in mid-December.
He introduced legislation to ban the app alongside Democratic and Republican colleagues in both chambers of Congress, called the ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act, with the goal of limiting China’s ability to influence the U.S. and spy on Americans.
“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,” U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) said.
The effort to ban TikTok in the U.S. has not yet been passed, but the ban of the popular platform on government phones and in Congress is a step toward that goal.
Now that the omnibus budget bill has cleared the U.S. House and U.S. Senate, it is expected to be signed by President Joe Biden before the year ends, according to statements from the White House.