". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Biden Administration Announces Support of Bipartisan Bill to Ban TikTok

March 9, 2023

Earlier this week, a bipartisan group of 12 senators introduced the Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology (RESTRICT) Act, with Senators Mark Warner (D-Va.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) leading the way. This new legislation allows the government to address threats from foreign technology adversaries that pose risk to national security, taking specific aim at TikTok.

At first, the Biden administration was “considering supporting the legislation,” but on Tuesday they expressed full support. In a press release following the proposed legislation, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that the White House applauds the bipartisan group of Senators and is eager “to continue working with both Democrats and Republicans on this bill.” The White House has also urged Congress “to act quickly to send it to the President’s desk.”

Within the last few years, the rise of technology has taken over schools, offices, and homes, with the trend accelerating even more due to the COVID lockdowns. As a result, foreign technologies “have entered the U.S. market and become increasingly embedded within our information and communications networks” posing threats to not only citizens, but U.S. critical infrastructure, Americans’ and businesses’ communications, and the security of everyday products.

The increase of technology has been paired with an increase in concerns regarding consumer software, specifically produced by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Warner openly expressed his concern with the Chinese-owned social media platform used by 80 million Americans, “Today, the threat that everyone is talking about is TikTok and how it could enable surveillance by the Chinese Communist Party, or facilitate the spread of malign influence campaigns in the U.S.”

Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry Boykin, Family Research Council’s executive vice president, also objected to the use of TikTok in America.It is a platform that is being exploited for intel collection and espionage by the Chinese Communist Party [CCP],” he told The Washington Stand. “It makes no sense to me to allow the CCP to have access to our individual and industrial networks for the purposes of spying on the American public, our economic infrastructure, and our government entities.”

A ban on TikTok would not be the first prohibition of foreign technology by the U.S. government over national security concerns. In November of last year, the Biden administration banned the approval of new equipment from the China-based companies Huawei Technologies and ZTE. In addition, the Federal Communications Commission added Russia’s AO Kaspersky Lab to its list of communications equipment providers that threatened the security of government. In the past, agencies have tried to utilize various authorities to address foreign technology affairs, “but efforts have often been disjointed, failed to comprehensively address identified risks, or simply proved slow and under-suited to the complexity and interconnectedness of the global ICT supply chain,” as stated by an explainer on the RESTRICT Act.

“Our country needs a process in place to address these risks,” Thune noted, “which is why I’m pleased to work with Senator Warner to establish a holistic, methodical approach to address the threats posed by technology platforms — like TikTok — from foreign adversaries.”

With such ominous foreign threats on the rise, proponents say the RESTRICT Act offers an organized process that will empower the Department of Commerce to “identify and mitigate foreign threats to information and communications technology products and services.”

The RESTRICT Act is moving quickly through the congressional process, following Rep. Michael McCaul’s (R-Texas) DATA Act, which allows the president to ban foreign-owned apps. The RESTRICT Act differs from the DATA Act, Politico points out, in that it “does not require the Commerce Department or White House to impose bans or sanctions,” but instead would “task federal agencies with reviewing potential threats posed by tech emanating from China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba or Venezuela.”

According to Warner, the RESTRICT Act provides a comprehensive approach that “proactively tackles sources of potentially dangerous technology before they gain a foothold in America.” With the Biden administration now in favor of the bill, banning foreign technologies in America is becoming a realistic possibility.