April 6 (Reuters) – Two U.S. senators on Thursday rejected criticism that a proposal to give the Biden administration new powers to ban the Chinese-owned short video app TikTok is the best way to address security concerns about foreign-owned apps.
Senators Mark Warner, Democrat, and John Thune, Republican, last month introduced a capping bill that would give the Commerce Department new authority to review, freeze and settle various transactions involving foreign information and communications technologies that pose national security risks.
“Our bill is designed to modernize the president’s global economic powers for the digital age, to provide significant protections to the president’s authority, to give Congress the power to override certain decisions made by the president, and to establish a risk-based process for dealing with foreign-adversary technology,” Warner and Thune at Wall. He said in a Street Journal essay.
The White House and 26 senators from China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, Venezuela and Cuba support the bill, which would target foreign technology. Critics say the bill is too broad and infringes on the civil liberties of Americans, including the more than 150 million US TikTok users.
The Republican House Financial Services Committee tweeted last week that the cap would make the Commerce Department “a tyrant on trade, sanctions, investment, cryptocurrency and more.”
The senators denied targeting private users or people using a virtual private network to access TikTok.
“A heavily funded lobbying campaign from a Chinese company misrepresented our accounts in bad faith,” they wrote. “It’s not hard to see why: There’s money to be made by allowing TikTok to continue doing what it currently does in the U.S. and protecting American citizens from national security threats by allowing it to be underutilized.”
TikTok CEO Xu Zi-chew appeared before Congress last month to face tough questions about national security concerns over the ByteDance-owned app.
TikTok, which did not immediately comment Thursday, said it had spent more than $1.5 billion on robust data security efforts and denied the spying allegations.
Last week, Republican Senator Rand Paul blocked a bid by Senator Josh Hawley to fast-track a separate bill to ban TikTok, saying the limited legislation “doesn’t ban TikTok.” It gives the president entirely new powers. “
The Biden administration has demanded that TikTok’s Chinese owners divest their stake or face a US ban. Then in 2020, President Donald Trump’s attempt to ban TikTok was blocked by US courts.
Democratic Representative Cory Bush said last week that Congress should pass a comprehensive data privacy law instead of targeting one company for industry-wide issues.
Reporting by David Shepardson Editing by Margherita Choi
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