Sen. Ted Cruz is among a handful of US lawmakers who are preparing a fresh push to clamp down on TikTok — and Apple and Google may figure into the plans, sources told On The Money.
While some TikTok bans have been slammed as a “Patriot Act” for the digital age, the Texas Republican aims to introduce legislation that will hold Apple and Google’s feet to the fire — and ban the tech giants from selling or operating devices that allow TikTok.
In addition to Cruz, US Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-Wash.), who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is drafting a similar bill and others may be in the works, sources said.
Cruz is looking to lean on “Apple and Google… to update software and not permit TikTok,” according to a source briefed on the legislation, noting that Cruz and lawmakers appear to be working on their bills separately, although they are aware of each other’s efforts.
Reps for Cruz and McMorris-Rodgers declined to comment.
There are already multiple bills floating through Congress that are seeking to put an end to TikTok in the US.
Meanwhile, Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte’s decision to prohibit the app last week may have helped nudge Congress back into action, and could be a key step toward a nationwide ban, sources said.
“The fact Montana pushed it over the line opens the door for other states to push it through. It only took a few states to push the federal ban,” a source lobbying against the bill told On The Money.
“The fact it passed as is with no carve-outs signal to states that you can basically copy and paste the same legislation.”
While the law could get struck down, these people argue the damage to TikTok will already be done.
“If this doesn’t work then another state will find another law to pass. TikTok could beat back the Montana bill but the reality is another state like Florida could come up with a creative way of going after TikTok,” a source told The Post.
“TikTok has to pitch a perfect game to win this but people who want to ban it only need one kill shot,” the source added.
States including Texas, Utah and Alabama were first to ban TikTok on government devices.
After enough states issued that ban, the federal government decided it would also prohibit the app on government devices.
Still, some sources note that the legal ground is shakier when it comes to a nationwide ban as opposed to a ban on federal devices.
The Montana ban prohibits TikTok from operating in the state and makes it unlawful for Google or Apple to carry the app. Just days later, TikTok sued Montana, arguing that the state ban was unlawful and violated both the First Amendment and violates Constitutional protections of interstate commerce.
“In Congress there has been a wait-and-see type posture,” another political source told The Post.
“But it can give them cover… and help people see the momentum.”
A state ban could also be the perfect opportunity for people to experience life without TikTok, another source noted.
“Once people realize its not the end of the world it takes away a lot of TIkTok’s talking points,” another insider notes.
Others are more cautious, “Everything is a step.. but I wouldn’t give a eulogy just yet.”
“Montana is a further indication that the tide is moving away from TikTok,” FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr told On The Money. “The trajectory is against TikTok.”