The bipartisan Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology (RESTRICT) Act, seeks to proactively tackle dangerous technology, including TikTok, Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) told Cheddar News.
Warner and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) introduced the bill meant to comprehensively address the ongoing threat posed by technology from foreign adversaries, on Tuesday.
The Act will empower the Department of Commerce to review, prevent, and mitigate information communications and technology transactions that pose undue risk to the United States' national security.
"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," Warner told Cheddar News.
Similarly, Sen. Thune told reporters on Tuesday that, "Congress needs to stop taking a piecemeal approach when it comes to technology from adversarial nations that pose national security risks."
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) told Cheddar News that the United States needs a strategic approach since TikTok would not be the last foreign company to collect Americans' data.
"We shouldn't let any company subject to the Chinese Communist Party's dictates collect data on a third of our population — and while TikTok is just the latest example, it won't be the last," the senator said.
The White House has also expressed support for the bill.
"We commend the bipartisan group of senators led by Senators Warner and Thune who introduced the RESTRICT Act," White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Wednesday. "We want to make sure that the digital products and services Americans use every day are safe and secure"
But TikTok, for its part, has condemned the effort, arguing the bill stymies free speech.
"A US 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 company said in a statement. "We're disappointed to see this rushed piece of legislation move forward, despite its considerable negative impact on the free-speech rights of millions of Americans who use and love TikTok."
Warner disagreed with TikTok's assertion.
"I don't take lightly concerns that authorities provided by this legislation — which includes, in particular circumstances, banning foreign firms from operating in the U.S. — could have an impact on Americans who use those tools to communicate," he told Cheddar News.
"That's one reason our bill puts the onus on the federal government to demonstrate — both in the courts, and to the American public — that a foreign firm poses a major threat to our national security and that a ban is the only way to effectively address it," Warner added.