U.S. House Passes Spanberger’s Legislation to Ban TikTok on TSA Phones, Protect Airport Security Personnel & Systems from Chinese Surveillance

The Congresswoman’s Legislation Would Prohibit TSA Personnel from Using or Downloading the TikTok App on Government-Issued Phones

**VIDEO: On Floor of the U.S. House, Spanberger Highlights National Security Threat Posed by TikTok, Urges Her Colleagues to Protect Airport Personnel from Foreign-Based Counterintelligence Activities**

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A bipartisan majority of the U.S. House of Representatives today voted to pass U.S. Representative Abigail’s Spanberger’s legislation to ban the Chinese video app “TikTok” on Transportation Security Administration (TSA) phones.

Last month, the TSA announced that it would prohibit its employees from using the TikTok app on federally issued devices following concerns from the U.S. intelligence community regarding the app’s lack of transparency about potential security vulnerabilities. As a Chinese-owned company, TikTok is required by law in China to comply with information and data requests from the Chinese government.

Spanberger’s amendment would codify TSA’s policy to prohibit employees from downloading or using TikTok on government-issued devices. The amendment was included as part of the  bipartisan Rights for Transportation Security Officers Act, which Spanberger cosponsored.

On the floor of the U.S. House today, Spanberger spoke in support of her legislation, and she highlighted the significant security risks TikTok poses to U.S. security systems, TSA personnel, and American travelers. Click here to watch and download her remarks. A full transcript of her remarks is below:

I’d like to begin by thanking Chairman Thompson for his leadership on this important legislation and for his commitment to the men and women who keep our airports and travelers safe.

I am proud to cosponsor this bipartisan bill, because I share the Chairman’s commitment to ensuring that the TSA workforce receives the rights that they’ve earned.

I am also proud to lead this amendment, which would codify the administration’s ban on TSA employees using or installing the app “TikTok” on their government-issued phones.

While to some TikTok may seem like a harmless app, TikTok presents a significant counter-intelligence threat.

Our intelligence experts are rightly concerned about the use of the TikTok app, especially on U.S. government-issued devices.

As many of my colleagues know, TikTok, like other Chinese companies is required under Chinese law to share information with the government and its institutions.

There are real concerns that this app could also collect information on users in the United States to advance Chinese counter-intelligence efforts. And because it could become a tool for surveilling U.S. citizens or federal personnel, TikTok has no business being on U.S. government-issued devices.

While entrusted with keeping Americans safe, our security personnel should not use apps that could compromise federal government data.

There is always the threat that TikTok could be used to compromise government devices, including those used in our airports and among our airport personnel. That is why this amendment is so important, and why we should pass it without delay.

Recently, the TSA announced a prohibition on employees using or downloading TikTok on their government-issued work phones—and my amendment would make this ban law.

Other government agencies and departments have instituted a prohibition on the use of TikTok on government-issued phones—including the U.S. Army, the State Department, and the Department of Homeland Security.

TSA is right to institute this policy, especially as TikTok refuses to provide more transparency into some of its more controversial practices and use. 

I urge my colleagues to vote yes on my amendment and to keep our government devices and our airports safe from potential foreign surveillance.

The prohibition on TikTok would not apply to the personal phones of TSA personnel.

The passage of Spanberger’s legislation builds on her work to identify and combat threats posed by Chinese technologies to U.S. consumers and businesses. Yesterday, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed Spanberger’s bipartisan legislation to build a national strategy to protect 5G telecommunications systems in the United States and among U.S. allies.

The Spanberger-led Secure 5G and Beyond Act would require the administration to develop an unclassified, national strategy to protect U.S. consumers and assist allies in maximizing the security of their 5G telecommunications systems. This strategy would also identify additional ways to spur research and development by U.S. companies in a way that maintains reliable internet access. In January 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 413 to 3 to pass the House version of Spanberger’s Secure 5G and Beyond Act.


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