(Bloomberg) -- Representative Michael McCaul said he plans to have the House Foreign Affairs Committee vote next month on a new bill to ban TikTok in the US.
“The concern is that this app gives the Chinese government a back door into our phones,” McCaul said.
The comments are the most concrete sign yet that Congress could enact a ban this year and adds pressure on President Joe Biden’s administration to force a sale of the app by its Chinese parent company ByteDance Ltd.
McCaul said some of the existing proposals risk being blocked in court over free speech issues.
The Texas Republican said he’s skeptical that any proposed firewall between the enormously popular short video platform and its Chinese parent would adequately protect US users. He said the committee is working on a new bill that combines several proposals to ban TikTok and will address any constitutional issues with a ban.
McCaul’s efforts come amid other measures in both the House and Senate to ban TikTok in the US, including a bipartisan bill from Wisconsin Republican Mike Gallagher and Illinois Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi.
Missouri Senator Josh Hawley and Colorado Representative Ken Buck introduced their own version of the ban this week. Hawley in an interview urged a committee reviewing the national security risks of TikTok to expedite its work and said a sale of the app to an American buyer would address his concerns.
Brooke Oberwetter, a TikTok spokesperson, called total bans of the app a “piecemeal approach to national security and a piecemeal approach to broad industry issues like data security, privacy, and online harms.”
“We hope that lawmakers will focus their energies on efforts to address those issues holistically, rather than pretending that banning a single service would solve any of the problems they’re concerned about or make Americans any safer,” she said in a statement.
Read More: TikTok Ban Gains in Congress, Dialing Up Pressure on Biden
Congress recently banned TikTok from government phones, and more than half of US states have enacted similar prohibitions. The concern is that TikTok and the parent company could share information on US users with Chinese authorities. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the US has been looking at the risks presented by the platform since the Trump administration.
McCaul’s legislation, if approved, would then head to the House floor for consideration.
McCaul acknowledged the app’s vast popularity.
“I have kids and they said, ‘Dad, this won’t make you popular,’” he said.
--With assistance from Anna Edgerton and Daniel Flatley.
(Updates with Hawley and TikTok response starting in seventh paragraph)
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