Virginia House committee recommends banning TikTok, WeChat on state devices.
The Virginia House committee has recommended a bill that would ban the use of TikTok and WeChat on state-owned devices and Wi-Fi networks. The bill, patroned by Delegate Emily Brewer, goes further than Governor Glenn Youngkin’s executive order by forbidding state agencies from purchasing any goods or services from “any company owned or operated by the government of China”. Delegate Dan Helmer questioned why the legislation was targeted specifically at Chinese company, but excluded other geopolitical opponents such as Russia and Iran. Brewer rejected the suggestion that the proposal was rooted in anti-Asian sentiment and said that it was based on security concerns specific to China. The committee narrowly passed the bill on party lines and it will now be taken up by the House of Delegates.
Delegate Marcus Simon criticized the proposal, saying that because the bills single out specific companies by name, any name change the company makes over the next year would require them to re-write the whole thing. Brewer acknowledged this issue and said that they could explore expanding the legislation in the future. The committee rejected a proposal to pass the bill by for the day and instead recommended that the bill move forward to the full house for final approval.
The bill is an attempt to address security concerns regarding two popular social media platforms with links to the Chinese government. It seeks to prevent state agencies from purchasing any goods or services from companies owned by the Chinese government, as well as banning the use of TikTok and WeChat on all state-owned devices and Wi-Fi networks. The bill has been met with criticism from some delegates, who argued that it is unfair to single out one country and that it could lead to unnecessary re-writing if the companies change their names. Despite this, the committee has recommended the bill move forward and it will now be taken up by the House of Delegates.