Photo illustration: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.

Republican Sens. Josh Hawley and Rick Scott are introducing legislation to bar federal employees from using TikTok on government devices, citing national security concerns.

The big picture: Chinese tech companies like TikTok parent ByteDance are drawing rising scrutiny from policymakers who argue that Beijing can tap them to harvest vast amounts of data from Americans.

Details: The No TikTok on Government Devices Act would ban all federal employees from installing "TikTok or any successor application developed by ByteDance or any entity owned by ByteDance on any device issued by the United States or a government corporation."

  • The measure wouldn't apply in the context of cybersecurity research, intelligence gathering or any federal investigation or enforcement action.
  • “TikTok is owned by a Chinese company that includes Chinese Communist Party members on its board, and it is required by law to share user data with Beijing," Hawley said in a statement. "[I]t has no place on government devices."

Context: TikTok, a wildly popular video app, doesn't collect much personal information compared to other social media platforms, and there's little public evidence that it is monitoring other activity on its users' devices.

  • But it reserves the right under its terms of service to collect location and other data, and cybersecurity experts caution that user behavior on TikTok could be used to train artificial intelligence systems.

Go deeper: Why TikTok and Huawei are in lawmakers' sights

Go deeper

The apocalypse scenario

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democratic lawyers are preparing to challenge any effort by President Trump to swap electors chosen by voters with electors selected by Republican-controlled legislatures. One state of particular concern: Pennsylvania, where the GOP controls the state house.

Why it matters: Trump's refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, together with a widely circulated article in The Atlantic about how bad the worst-case scenarios could get, is drawing new attention to the brutal fights that could jeopardize a final outcome.

Federal judge rules Trump administration can't end census early

Census workers outside Lincoln Center in New York. Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

A federal judge ruled late Thursday that the Trump administration could not end the 2020 census a month early.

Why it matters: The decision states that an early end — on Sept. 30, instead of Oct. 31 — would likely produce inaccuracies and thus impact political representation and government funding around the country.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
2 hours ago - Health

Where bringing students back to school is most risky

Data: Coders Against COVID; Note: Rhode Island and Puerto Rico did not meet minimum testing thresholds for analysis. Values may not add to 100% due to rounding; Cartogram: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Schools in Southern and Midwestern states are most at risk of coronavirus transmission, according to an analysis by Coders Against COVID that uses risk indicators developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The big picture: Thankfully, schools have not yet become coronavirus hotspots, the Washington Post reported this week, and rates of infection are lower than in the surrounding communities. But that doesn't mean schools are in the clear, especially heading into winter.

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