A bipartisan bill has been introduced to the Senate, one that would take a comprehensive approach to foreign tech.
Concerns have been growing about TikTok and the threat it poses to privacy and security. In addition to TikTok, US officials remain concerned about Huawei, ZTE, and a host of other companies that could pose a threat to national security.
Senators Mark R. Warner and John Thune led a bipartisan group of 12 senators in introducing the Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology (RESTRICT) Act.
“Today, the threat that everyone is talking about is TikTok, and how it could enable surveillance by the Chinese Communist Party, or facilitate the spread of malign influence campaigns in the U.S. Before TikTok, however, it was Huawei and ZTE, which threatened our nation’s telecommunications networks. And before that, it was Russia’s Kaspersky Lab, which threatened the security of government and corporate devices,” said Sen. Warner. “We need a comprehensive, risk-based approach that proactively tackles sources of potentially dangerous technology before they gain a foothold in America, so we aren’t playing Whac-A-Mole and scrambling to catch up once they’re already ubiquitous.”
“Congress needs to stop taking a piecemeal approach when it comes to technology from adversarial nations that pose national security risks,” said Sen. Thune. “Our country needs a process in place to address these risks, which is why I’m pleased to work with Senator Warner to establish a holistic, methodical approach to address the threats posed by technology platforms – like TikTok – from foreign adversaries. This bipartisan legislation would take a necessary step to ensure consumers’ information and our communications technology infrastructure is secure.”
The new legislation would give the Secretary of Commerce the authority to crack down on any information or communications tech developed by a foreign company “in which any foreign adversary has any interest and poses undue or unacceptable risk to national security.”
The bill would also prioritize communications and tech that constitutes “critical infrastructure,” as well as enable the Commerce Secretary to take comprehensive action, including educating the public and businesses about potential security threats from foreign tech.
“We need to protect Americans’ data and keep our country safe against today and tomorrow’s threats. While many of these foreign-owned technology products and social media platforms like TikTok are extremely popular, we also know these products can pose a grave danger to Wisconsin’s users and threaten our national security,” said Sen. Baldwin. “This bipartisan legislation will empower us to respond to our fast-changing environment – giving the United States the tools it needs to assess and act on current and future threats that foreign-owned technologies pose to Wisconsinites and our national security.”
“There are a host of dangerous technology platforms – including TikTok – that can be manipulated by China and other foreign adversaries to threaten U.S. national security and abuse Americans’ personal data. I’m proud to join Senator Warner in introducing bipartisan legislation that would put an end to disjointed interagency responses and strengthen the federal government’s ability to counter these digital threats,” said Sen. Fischer.