White House backs bill to allow TikTok ban

STORY: The White House said Tuesday it backed legislation brought by a bipartisan group of a dozen Senators to give the administration new powers to ban Chinese-owned video app TikTok and other foreign-based technologies if they pose national security threats.

The endorsement boosts efforts by a number of lawmakers who want to reign in the popular app used by more than 100 million Americans.

"100 million Americans, 90 minutes a day..."

Democratic Senator Mark Warner, who chairs the Intelligence Committee, said the bill gives the Commerce Department the ability to impose restrictions up to and including banning TikTok and other technologies.

"I absolutely believe that China, with its authoritarian values dominating those technologies, is not in the national security interest of our country, or for that matter, people across the world who don't live in authoritarian regimes."

Warner said it would also apply to foreign technologies from China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, Venezuela and Cuba.

TikTok said in a statement that any "U.S. ban on TikTok is a ban on the export of American culture and values to the billion-plus people who use our service worldwide."

The bill would require the Commerce Secretary to identify and address foreign threats to information and communications technology products and services.

Warner said it was important the government do more to make clear what it believes are the national security risks to the U.S. from the use of TikTok.

Still, an outright ban of TikTok in the United States seems improbable to some experts, like Shuman Ghosemajumder, a former fraud czar at Google.

"It's extremely difficult to imagine TikTok or any app of this scale being banned across the United States. There are a number of problems that are associated with the government doing that, not the least of which is, it's sort of unprecedented in terms of there's been no other app like this that has reached this level of popularity that has suddenly become banned in the United States. So I think practically, it's extremely difficult and probably unlikely.

TikTok, the ByteDance-owned app has come under increasing fire over fears user data could end up in the hands of the Chinese government, undermining Western security interests.

TikTok Chief Executive Shou Zi Chew is due to appear before Congress on March 23.