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Thune pushes oversight process for foreign tech, including TikTok

South Dakota Senator John Thune on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Thune is minority whip in the Senate and ranking member of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband.

Sen. John Thune has introduced legislation aimed at “national security threats from foreign technologies,” including the social media app TikTok.

The bill is cosponsored by a bipartisan coalition of 12 senators. It would require the U.S. Department of Commerce to vet transactions involving communications products that present “undue or unacceptable risk to the national security.”

Thune said Congress has previously relied on a “piecemeal approach” to counter Chinese firms.

“This legislation builds on [previous] efforts by establishing a comprehensive process within the Department of Commerce to mitigate, and which ultimately could lead, I would add, to banning, platforms like TikTok,” Thune said in a press briefing Tuesday.

Other South Dakota Republicans have also taken actions aimed at the social media app, which is owned by the Chinese firm ByteDance. Last fall, Rep. Dusty Johnson introduced legislation to ban TikTok on federal government devices. Gov. Kristi Noem has banned the app on state devices.

House Republicans are pushing a bill that empowers the President to specifically ban TikTok nationwide. Thune emphasized his approach creates a procedure for the federal government to vet future technologies and platforms.

“The Chinese Communist Party has proven over the last few years that it is willing to lie about just about everything,” he said. “That likely won't end with TikTok, which is why it's important to establish a holistic and methodical approach.”

Not explicitly identifying TikTok also makes it harder to challenge the proposal as a bill of attainder, Thune told Axios.

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan supported the proposal in a press release.

Slater Dixon is a junior at Augustana University studying Government and Data Science. He was born in Sioux Falls and is based out of SDPB's Sioux Falls studio.
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