The US House Foreign Affairs Committee voted on Wednesday along party lines to give President Joe Biden the power to ban Chinese-owned TikTok, Reuters reported.
Lawmakers voted 24 to 16 to approve the measure to grant the administration new powers to ban the ByteDance-owned app - which is used by over 100 million Americans - as well as other apps considered security risks.
"TikTok is a national security threat ... It is time to act," said Representative Michael McCaul, the Republican chair of the committee who sponsored the bill.
"Anyone with TikTok downloaded on their device has given the CCP (Communist Party of China) a backdoor to all their personal information. It’s a spy balloon into their phone," he added.
Democrats opposed the bill, saying it was rushed and required due diligence through debate and consultation with experts. The bill does not precisely specify how the ban would work, but gives Biden power to ban any transactions with TikTok, which in turn could prevent anyone in the United States from accessing or downloading the app on their phones.
TikTok has faced rising concerns over national security due to Chinese parent company ByteDance. Both parties in Washington have become increasingly concerned that the Chinese government could use its legal powers to access the user data of American citizens or to spread misinformation.
In August of 2020, then-President Donald Trump signed an executive order giving Americans 45 days to stop doing business with ByteDance, saying Chinese tech operations may be used for spying.
The company later announced it will challenge the crackdown on the service in court.
In December, the US House of Representatives Committee on House Administration banned TikTok from all House-managed mobile devices "due to a number of security risks". In addition, more than 20 US states have banned TikTok from government devices.
Earlier this week, the White House gave government agencies 30 days to ensure they do not have TikTok on federal devices and systems.
TikTok has said the concerns are fueled by misinformation.
"A US ban on TikTok is a ban on the export of American culture and values to the billion people who use our service worldwide," a TikTok spokeswoman said after Wednesday’s vote.